Science Says: Read More Books

I hated reading when I was small. I even distinctly remember the reading contest we had at school and my plan was to game the system by reading very short books that were, on second thought, probably board books from my babyhood.

Yeah … I didn’t get away with that. My parents forced me to start reading actual books and while I grumbled at the time, I grew to love reading very quickly. I would read all day long if I could. Summer afternoon on the beach? I’m going to have at least one book with me. (My e-book reader has made my packing much lighter over the years.)

If you’re a reader, you probably share the sentiment. Be warned – you might want to sit down for this part: More than a quarter of American adults freely admit to not having read even part of a book within the past year, according to stats from the Pew Research Center.

I don’t understand how there are that many adults who don’t read or enjoy reading, but I get that every person is different and has various interests and there are plenty of things these days to keep us occupied (thanks, internet streaming and social media).

However, science bears out that reading is good for your creativity, lifespan, career and more. Inc. has more:

Reading fiction can help you be more open-minded and creative

According to research conducted at the University of Toronto, study participants who read short-story fiction experienced far less need for “cognitive closure” compared with counterparts who read nonfiction essays. Essentially, they tested as more open-minded, compared with the readers of essays. “Although nonfiction reading allows students to learn the subject matter, it may not always help them in thinking about it,” the authors write. “A physician may have an encyclopedic knowledge of his or her subject, but this may not prevent the physician from seizing and freezing on a diagnosis, when additional symptoms point to a different malady.”

People who read books live longer

That’s according to Yale researchers who studied 3,635 people older than 50 and found that those who read books for 30 minutes daily lived an average of 23 months longer than nonreaders or magazine readers. Apparently, the practice of reading books creates cognitive engagement that improves lots of things, including vocabulary, thinking skills, and concentration. It also can affect empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, the sum of which helps people stay on the planet longer.

Reading 50 books a year is something you can actually accomplish

While about a book a week might sound daunting, it’s probably doable by even the busiest of people. Writer Stephanie Huston says her thinking that she didn’t have enough time turned out to be a lame excuse. Now that she has made a goal to read 50 books in a year, she says that she has traded wasted time on her phone for flipping pages in bed, on trains, during meal breaks, and while waiting in line. Two months into her challenge, she reports having more peace and satisfaction and improved sleep, while learning more than she thought possible.

Successful people are readers

It’s because high achievers are keen on self-improvement. Hundreds of successful executives have shared with me the books that have helped them get where they are today. Need ideas on where to start? Titles that have repeatedly made their lists include: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz; Shoe Dog by Phil Knight; Good to Great by Jim Collins; and Losing My Virginity by Richard Branson.

So, what are you reading right now?

OCRA Hosting Downtown Development Week in October

 

Rural communities will be on display in October during a weeklong inaugural celebration by the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) called Downtown Development Week.

The celebration of cities and towns across Indiana will be October 8-12. During the week, Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch will visit communities, determined in part by a photo contest going on now until July 8.

More details of the program and contest below:

“The downtowns of our rural communities have really transformed under the leadership of the Indiana Main Streets, elected officials and volunteers,” said Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch. “It is time we highlight the hard work that was put into revitalizing downtown spaces, and I look forward to joining the celebrations.”

This week will be an opportunity for communities across the state to host events to celebrate their communities and encourage comradery through events and activities. Downtown Development Week, which will run from Oct. 8 – 12, 2018, will honor Indiana’s cities and towns’ commitment to preserve and invest in the heart of the community, the downtown.

“We are very excited to launch this new week to celebrate the focal points of our rural communities,” said Jodi Golden, Executive Director of OCRA. “A thriving downtown is important to a community’s continued development and we want to celebrate all of the amenities they have to offer.”

To generate excitement for Downtown Development Week, OCRA is planning a variety of events, including a statewide proclamation honoring Indiana downtowns, free placemaking workshops in Bargersville and Grant County and promoting community events across OCRA social media.

Starting today, participants are encouraged to submit photos in the “Bring the LG to My Community” contest by using #LGtomyDowntown on each entry. These photos should capture the spirit and uniqueness of your community and downtown. Also, tell us why Lt. Gov. Crouch should visit your community. Crouch may visit your town during Downtown Development Week, if you are chosen as a winner. Photos must be submitted by midnight on July 8, 2018 to be eligible.

To view more information, including complete contest rules, on Downtown Development Week, visit www.in.gov/ocra/2896.htm.

Carmel Family Collects Trash on Purpose

Traveling across the country with a minivan full of trash doesn’t sound like my idea of vacation, but that’s what one family from Carmel has done this summer – and for a good reason.

The Kendrick family is driving cross-country to Yosemite, California, and stopping at 11 national parks along the way, all the while holding on to their trash (including food scraps) for the first 10 days of their trip. For the last 20 days, they’ll be learning how to travel with zero waste.

Full disclosure – one of my daughter’s previous preschool teachers is the mom, Samantha, in this family. Her husband, Josh, is a seventh-grade teacher in Carmel and received a $12,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment for this project. One hundred K-12 teachers in Indiana received funding through the Teacher Creativity Fellowship grant program.

The pair and their two children, ages 13 and 10, are updating their blog along the way; read it here.

I’ve heard of people who live a zero-waste lifestyle, but I can’t imagine putting that into practice or even where to start such an initiative in my own life. That’s another of the messages from the Kendricks: They’re a typical Midwestern family with two children. If they can do it, maybe I can as well?

Or, can I at least consider what I’m throwing into the trash can?

The Indy Star has more on the family’s adventures:

It certainly was an eye-opening experience for Kendrick and his family as they inventoried their “landfill” Monday at Grand Teton National Park. 

Among their haul: numerous plastic food bags, tin foil for baked potatoes, ketchup splattered napkins, and lots and lots of straws and plastic cutlery. They’ve also kept all leftover food, such as french fries, apple cores, cantaloupe rinds and hamburger buns. 

After sorting through, the Kendricks composted the food and other items they could and recycled the materials that qualified at the park’s facilities. The family cleaned a few containers they plan to reuse and then had to toss the rest. 

With their bins emptied, all four are looking forward to the next 20 days and a trash free car. 

“Collecting everything is a pain and having to keep it all, it kind of puts you down to see that you use that much,” said Kendrick’s 13-year-old son, Nathan. “But it’s a wonderful trip, and I love the idea.”

His younger sister, Addie, echoed that sentiment. 

“At first I thought there was no way this was possible and that dad was just making up a crazy idea,” the 10-year-old said. “But it has been an eye-opening experiment.” 

That creativity and drive is a large part of what the Lilly Endowment saw in the Creekside Middle School teacher’s proposal, according to Endowment spokeswoman Judith Cebula. 

It’s about taking a commitment to the environment and learning more deeply how one person can make a difference,” she said. “Also, it reflects a commitment to taking what he learns this summer … and finding a way to share what he experiences with his students when he goes back to school in the fall.” 

Kendrick hopes to be able to show other families that they all can be more aware of what they are throwing away and the impact it has on the environment. He also wants to give examples of accessible changes a family can make to reduce its waste. 

Those ideas are still to come over the next 20 days as the Kendricks continue to the west coast and then make their way back to Indianapolis in July. 

“If we don’t change how we are living, these treasures of our national parks that we are showing our children and the water and the air will not remain the same,” he said. “So we need to change how we are doing things.” 

USS Indiana Submarine to be Commissioned in September

Shakespeare famously wrote, “What’s in a name?”, implying names are mere signifiers that don’t alter substance.

But when it comes to ships and other nautical vessels, names are important and carry significance and historical gravitas. Take, for instance, the Navy’s newest submarine: the USS Indiana (SSN 789). Named by the Secretary of the Navy in 2012, the fast-attack submarine will be commissioned on Sept. 29 in Port Canaveral, Florida.

The USS Indiana will be the 16th Virginia-class sub to join the fleet (Virginia-class subs have the capability to attack targets on shore with cruise missiles, can conduct long-term surveillance, and assist with special forces delivery and support).

This is not the first U.S. Navy ship to be named after Indiana, but it is the first submarine to bear the name. For more on the history of ships named after our state, read this 2016 BizVoice® article.

Here’s more on the USS Indiana, from the U.S. Navy:

Diane Donald, wife of retired Adm. Kirkland H. Donald, is the ship’s sponsor.

Designed to operate in both coastal and deep-ocean environments, Indiana will present leadership with a broad and unique range of capabilities, including anti-submarine warfare; anti-surface ship warfare; strike warfare; special operation forces (SOF) support; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions.

Indiana is a part of the Virginia-class’ third, or Block III, contract, in which the Navy redesigned approximately 20 percent of the ship to reduce acquisition costs. Indiana features a redesigned bow, which replaces 12 individual Vertical Launch System tubes with two large-diameter Virginia Payload Tubes each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles, among other design changes that reduced the submarines’ acquisition cost while maintaining their outstanding warfighting capabilities.

Indiana has special features to support SOF, including a reconfigurable torpedo room which can accommodate a large number of SOF and all their equipment for prolonged deployments and future off-board payloads. Also, in Virginia-class SSNs, traditional periscopes have been replaced by two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms. Through the extensive use of modular construction, open architecture and commercial off-the-shelf components, the Virginia class is designed to remain at the cutting edge for its entire operational life through the rapid introduction of new systems and payloads.

An artist rendering of the Virginia-class submarine USS Indiana (SSN 789). (U.S. Navy photo illustration by Stan Bailey/Released)

Fast Food Freaky Friday

What is going on in the world of fast casual dining? Earlier this week, IHOP (the chain breakfast eatery), announced a new marketing campaign, teasing the week before by announcing it was temporarily changing its name to IHOB.

The big reveal was that the “B” stands for … burgers.

Well, that’s not where I thought it was going (bacon, breakfast, blueberries; there are lots of other “b” words that go along with breakfast foods). Of course, that’s not the point. The company is trying to branch out into its other non-breakfast fare, hence the burgers.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll be really good at burgers (or maybe they already are? I just usually get the pancakes, so I don’t know about the other menu items).

What this has led to, at the very least, is an amazing combination of fast food marketing and hilarious social media teams.

Take, for instance, Burger King. Or should we say, Pancake King.

The burger and fries joint – I’m not forgetting about the chicken sandwiches – responded by taking advantage of the hullabaloo and changed its name on Twitter to Pancake King to remind the world that it offers pancakes for breakfast.

Pancakes for burgers, burgers for pancakes. It’s a fast food Freaky Friday!

Burger Pancake King was not the only brand to respond with some savagery on Twitter (As a public service announcement, check out Wendy’s social media work. It’s impressive).

Whatever happens, the temporary name change for IHOP definitely put its name out there and got people talking. Whether or not the burgers are any good, it seems like the restaurant probably met its visibility goals.

Meanwhile, I’ll just stick to the chocolate pancakes. You let me know if you try the burgers.

Focus on Health This Summer

What’s the state of Indiana’s health?

Unfortunately, it’s not good. In fact, Indiana ranks at the bottom in several health metrics.

One of those is opioid abuse, which has received a lot of attention recently around the state. However, Hoosiers also continue to struggle with tobacco use and obesity (and diseases related to both), as well as high infant mortality rates.

Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar recently penned an article on how health is the missing piece of Indiana’s economic puzzle. For additional background and data on the issue, read it here.

The Alliance for a Healthier Indiana – made up of health care professionals, educators, business and community leaders – is aiming to educate the public and policymakers about these issues, grow local support and generally raise awareness of the dangers of our poor health, while also sharing ways Hoosiers can work together to improve these metrics.

With its State of Our Health Road Show, the Alliance is on the road this summer and fall, hosting free town hall meetings in all corners of the state.

The road show is in Fort Wayne today and will travel to Muncie tomorrow, June 13. Other June dates include Richmond on June 19 and Connersville on June 20. The complete schedule is available here; events go through October.

To see clips and video from earlier road shows, visit the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana’s Facebook page.

Founding members of the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana include the Indiana Hospital Association, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana State Medical Association, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Indiana and the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health.

Brinegar and Community Health Network President and CEO Bryan Mills recently spoke about the Alliance and the state of Indiana’s health during a segment on Inside INdiana Business. The segment gives an overview of the issues:

To learn more about the Alliance for a Healthier Indiana visit the web site at www.healthierindiana.org.

Achieve Your Degree (and Save Money) With Indiana Chamber Discount

Many of the adults in Indiana with some or no postsecondary education are already working at companies or organizations that are desperate for a pipeline of talent to grow their businesses.

Those companies need to look no further than their own employee base with assistance from Ivy Tech Community College and its Achieve Your Degree program (plus a tuition discount courtesy of your Indiana Chamber of Commerce membership).

Employers interested in upskilling their existing workforce, attracting new employees with a tuition reimbursement benefit and are members of the Indiana Chamber can enroll in Achieve Your Degree and offer full-time employees a 5% discount on tuition costs, or take advantage of that savings if the company already pays employee tuition.

With Achieve Your Degree, employers can offer tuition reimbursement with minimal up-front costs as tuition can be deferred to the end of the semester. An Ivy Tech representative will also offer on-site academic advising and work with students on the financial aid application process.

Flexibility and customization are hallmarks of Achieve Your Degree. For example, to ensure students maintain their working schedules, they may take a combination of in-class and distance education. As the largest public postsecondary institution in Indiana, Ivy Tech has more than 40 locations throughout the state.

The Indiana Chamber expects the partnership with Ivy Tech to pay off for its member companies in several ways: skill upgrades, cost savings and building employee loyalty by offering the benefit.

Ivy Tech started the Achieve Your Degree program in 2016.

Member companies interested in learning more or signing up can find more information at www.indianachamber.com/achieve. Verify your Indiana Chamber membership is current and that your company is eligible for the 5% discount by calling Nick at (317) 264-6898.

Social Media to Keep You In the Loop

Did you see our live-stream Facebook video during the recent Best Places to Work in Indiana celebration in early May?

It was the first time we’ve broadcast live from that event – meaning you could be part of the action, even if you were watching from home!

If you follow us on Twitter, you’re the first to see our posts and news regarding legislative priorities and policy matters important to the Indiana business community.

Earlier this year, for example, you might have been following along as Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar tweeted from one of Indiana House Speaker Brian Bosma’s “Tweet Seats” during the Governor’s annual State of the State address.

On Instagram, you’ll get a glimpse of life behind the scenes here at the Indiana Chamber, from learning more about our new employees to how we celebrate the holidays, give back to the community and relax together as a company.

LinkedIn is a great way to learn about our many conferences and seminars, awards and updates and so much more.

You can also find us on YouTube with a variety of videos. Overall, social media is a great way to keep in touch with the Indiana Chamber and to receive breaking updates about the state’s business landscape.

Member news: If you’re looking for broader visibility for your company news and updates, submit your press releases through our Member Press Release submission form. Not only are those archived on our web site, but we regularly highlight this news and information to our 18,400+ Twitter followers and over 2,400 Facebook fans.Our presence on social media is also one of the benefits of membership with the Indiana Chamber. Here are some of the various member-related features you can find across our feeds:

  • Member Spotlight: We also shine the light on Indiana Chamber member companies through their own narrative with the Member Spotlight feature.
  • And we’re regularly interacting with Indiana Chamber member company accounts on social media, with this blog and the EchoChamber podcast, sharing conversations, posts and updates about what’s new in a number of companies and industries around the state.

But the best way for you to find out what we have to offer via social media is for you to follow, like or subscribe (if you don’t already) to our accounts.

You can also contact Communications and PR Manager Charlee Beasor at (317) 264-7543 if you have any questions or need more information about our social media presence and how your company can follow along or join in the conversation.

Indiana Humanities Offers ‘Shelfie’ Challenge

I was a little too excited when I saw the Shelfie Challenge from the Indiana Humanities Quantum Leap program. A reading contest where you win a $10 Amazon gift card at the end? Sign me up!

Alas, I skimmed right over the information that the program is only for Hoosier middle schoolers in grades 5-8. So, I can’t participate, but maybe you know a middle schooler who might be looking for some new reading material this summer.

The 10 books in this challenge are all about women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). A mix of fiction, non-fiction and graphic novel, but all about women and girls in science.

Here’s why it caught my eye initially: I have a 6-year-old little girl at home who is enthralled in the sciences and math! She’s always been a curious thinker and is a natural questioner of her surroundings, wanting to understand how things work and why.

Recently, we were flipping through the parks and recreation catalog for our hometown and while I encouraged her to look at the sporting options (I’m also always looking for ways to tire her out in the summer), she opted instead for the “All About Birds” STEM program. Of course!

And the other night there was a nature documentary on PBS about hummingbirds, so we had to stop and watch it, naturally.

This is a topic that really hits home for our family and even though I’m too old and she’s too young to participate in this particular challenge, I’m so happy to see a list of books on this topic – and you can bet we’re going to be adding these to our reading list anyway.

To enter the challenge, read at least five books from the list by the end of 2018. Take some notes about what you’re reading or how you feel about it and fill out an online survey and voila – that $10 Amazon gift card is yours!

#BizVoice Extra: ‘Indy Kronite Proud’

When I prepare for an interview for BizVoice®, I try not to formulate my interview questions with specific expectations in mind.

That doesn’t always work, of course. I’m human and sometimes my research leads me to expect people to react a certain way to a story topic or interview question.

When I started researching Kronos, Inc. for a story about the company’s Indianapolis Technology Center being a newcomer to the Best Places to Work in Indiana list, I saw the company has garnered a lot of accolades over the years (including making it on the Forbes Best 100 Companies to Work For a few years running).

My expectations were that my story might be sort of low-hanging fruit for the worldwide company with 5,000 employees and headquartered in Lowell, Massachusetts.

Well, I’m woman enough to admit that I was very wrong in my assumptions. In fact, I don’t remember another interview I’ve conducted for the Best Places to Work in Indiana program where the people have been more excited than they were at Kronos.

The four people I interviewed included two practice directors that manage the Indianapolis office, the senior manager of human resources and another manager. And ohmygosh, they could not have been happier about the recognition, a first for the Indianapolis location.

Christopher Hicks, practice manager of enterprise professional services, and Margaret Mitchell, senior vice president of human resources, relate the feeling of the Indianapolis office’s first award to being validated on social media.

“The validation; it’s receiving the little blue check (mark). We are verified here in Indianapolis as a company that provides opportunity for growth, we work on professional development, we have a great leadership team. We’re just excited,” Hicks told me at the time.

It’s the first year the company applied for Indiana’s Best Places to Work program and was championed by Mitchell, who found out about the recognition when she was on vacation. She recalls jumping up and down in excitement next to a swimming pool with her son nearby as she received the news on the phone.

“We’re really excited. It validates for us, the things we work on. It’s again nice to celebrate the success and remember that we do have something special here,” she said.

The Kronites, as they refer to themselves throughout the company, also invited me to attend a celebratory dessert bar. Company CEO Aron Ain was flying in for the occasion and addressed the crowd.

As I listened to Ain congratulate his Indianapolis employees and urge them to continue working on behalf of the clients to provide the best service possible, it was something else Ain said that stuck with me: take care of your family first.

For a CEO of a 5,000-person company to fly in and recognize employees for their efforts is impressive enough, but for his underlying message to be “you are important, and your family and your health are the most important things to me” – wow.

No wonder this company is garnering external awards and internal recognition left and right.

One other tidbit from my interviews with the Kronites (aside from the fact that we operate in the same building in downtown Indianapolis and I bump into them every so often, usually receiving a smile or a hug) is the one part I couldn’t fit into my story: how do they handle the Colts versus the Patriots rivalry, since the company is headquartered near Boston?

Matt Baker, one of the Indianapolis Technology Center practice directors, acknowledges the rivalry.

“The culture in Lowell is very passionate about the Patriots,” he admits. “The last couple of years have been challenging. We had a good run.”

The Indianapolis Technology Center’s focus is more on college sports, offers practice director Doug Ding. (He and Baker attended Purdue University together.) Conference rooms in the center are named after college team mascots, for example.

Hicks, originally from Chicago, doesn’t have much stake in the long-standing NFL rivalry between the Colts and Patriots.

“I’m a Bears guy,” he says. “But I see it all the time. Most of our executives are based out of the Lowell office and they’re huge Patriots fans and there’s a little bit of ribbing back and forth.”

Mitchell doesn’t hesitate: “Always Colts. Always.”