Honoring Our Volunteers: Marci Crozier

Whenever I get new assignments for BizVoice® magazine, I get excited about the stories I’ll get to research and share with our readers; particularly when it’s time to interview our Chamber Volunteers of the Year.

So far, I’ve gotten to speak to some of the most earnest, humble people and each time I’ve come away from those interviews with such an excitement to share the passion and drive these Chamber volunteers possess.

This year was no exception. I’ve actually been using the term “salt of the Earth” to describe her to my co-workers. And we had so much to discuss, that I only got to put a fraction of her story into our November-December edition, which you can read online.

Marci Crozier has been involved with the Wellness Council of Indiana since its onset in the early 1980s. She’s well-known as one of Indiana’s Biggest Losers from the popular NBC television show and is regional director of marketing and sales for Franciscan Omni 41 Health and Fitness Connection in northwestern Indiana.

Here are just a few other things Marci had to say about volunteerism, life and health and wellness:

“Fifty percent of the people that write us and talk to us about personal things are about weight and fitness, but the other 50% is about everything from gambling, to alcoholism, to especially relationships issues. They can’t figure out why they have these problems. I try to tell them, ‘I’m not a doctor, I’m not a therapist. But I will tell you from my own experience that you have to love yourself before you’re going to be able to be in a good relationship.’ ”

A story about her mother’s philanthropic spirit:

“She worked in a deli and she told me this story just before she died and she said ‘There was this lady that used to come to the deli and she couldn’t cook and her in-laws thought she could cook. She would come to me and I made this banana pudding…and I said to this lady, I could make this great thing; I’ll make it for you. I didn’t make it at the deli; I made it at home because I didn’t want her to pay for it.

“…She doesn’t pay me with money; she pays me by her thankfulness. That helps me to feel good about life. I’m able to do for other people because I can; God gave me the gift to cook and this lady can’t do that. But she has other things and I make her promise to do something good, something that’s a gift for somebody else.’

“That’s the kind of stuff I try to teach my kids. It doesn’t have to be money especially; people always think of money. But sometimes it’s just about being there for somebody.”

On what wellness really is:

“I didn’t even know what wellness was. I really thought it was fitness. I thought, if we can get people moving, it’ll make all the difference in the world. But it’s not all the difference in the world. People need to know how to invest their money. People need to know that if you want to have wellness, you need to surround yourself in your social life with the people that have your same kind of interests. People need to know that family relationships are probably the most important things and how can they work through those.

“…One thing people are always afraid of talking about and I think that’s why I love working for this organization as much as I do, is the spiritual aspect of wellness. Religion means different things to a lot of different people. When you talk spirituality with people you can speak their language. Sometimes when I talk spirituality with people it’s about centering themselves – not knowing that there’s a God; I don’t really care who their God is, they can believe whatever they want to believe. But they have to know there’s something greater than them, that they’re serving a purpose, a greater good that is way better than them.”

Hot Dog! Likely New Frankfort Mayor is 23-Year-Old Butler Student

My parents and grandparents are from Frankfort and I lived there until I was five, so it’s an Indiana town I have a strong affinity for. Seeing this news yesterday was quite intriguing: Soon-to-be Butler University grad Chris McBarnes won the GOP primary, likely making him the town’s next mayor.

Good luck to him, and I think it’s safe to say he won’t end up like another young government exec — "Parks & Recreation" character Ben Wyatt. Wyatt became mayor of his hometown of Partridge, Minnesota at 18 years old, only to bankrupt the burg by investing all too heavily in "Ice Town." Newspapers then blasted the young mayor with the headline: "Ice Town Costs Ice Clown Town Crown." Thankfully, Mr. McBarnes seems far more fiscally responsible, so this likely won’t be an issue.

Every weekend since October, McBarnes said, he and a core group of supporters were out knocking on doors and talking to residents. He estimated the group of about 25 volunteers knocked on the doors of 90 percent of the homes in Frankfort.

The grass-roots approach succeeded in raising about $15,000, most of which came in donations of less than $100, McBarnes said.

Terri Jett, an associate professor and chairwoman of Butler’s political science department, said McBarnes’ strategy was diligent and effective. Jett didn’t have McBarnes as a student or know him from campus, but she said his message must have resonated in Frankfort.

"The success of someone his age depends on the makeup of the community," Jett said. Frankfort "looks to be a changing community with an influx of immigrants and a population that’s relatively young. So there are people there who are not so tied to the old system."

McBarnes talked to potential supporters about his plans to unify city and county governments, end infighting and promote small-business growth. He promised to engage citizens and make sure people could speak up at local government meetings without feeling intimidated.

Youth involvement also was part of his platform. McBarnes wants to create a job-shadowing program to help high school students explore various professions. He also hopes to work with city youths and inspire them to return to Frankfort after college.

"Some of the youths feel shoved aside in this community," McBarnes said. "I want to make sure those who go on to further education are proud of their community and make them want to come back."

Other commitments he’s made include preserving municipal employee health insurance benefits, working on city beautification, seeking grant funds and assisting with the Frankfort Roundhouse — a project to build a proposed railroad museum and business center on the city’s west side.

Mark Cuban vs. Sen. Franken on Internet Bandwidth

IU grad and Dallas Mavericks owner/billionaire Mark Cuban recently took Sen. Al Franken (Minnesota) to task on his blog regarding Franken’s contention that if a pending $30 billion deal between NBC and Comcast goes through, then they must agree to post their TV shows online so everyone has access — and Franken seems to be pushing for caps on user bandwidth.

Some of this seems a little "inside baseball" (man, I loathe that phrase… how ’bout "inside ice dancing" in honor of the Winter Olympics?), but I’m sure our savvy readers will glean more from it than I. Anyway, it’s a relevant and interesting topic, and in his usual calm, sober way, Cuban drops the hammer on the former NBC employee. An excerpt:

According to the LA Times, “In written questions to Comcast and NBC Universal regarding their $30-billion proposed marriage, Sen. Franken — who has been one of the harshest critics of the deal — wants Comcast and NBC Universal to promise that it will put all its television shows online. He also wants assurances that shows that the companies put online be made available to every one and not just people who get their Internet service through Comcast.”

Also in the Times article: “As Franken notes in his questions to the two companies, “The Internet is the future of the media business.”"

Lets start with the first request that all NBC Universal/Comcast shows should be delivered over the internet.  Someone needs to explain to Sen. Franken that TV shows delivered over the internet consume bandwidth. A lot of bandwidth.  There are  reasons why Youtube limits the size of files that users can upload to it. The first is that video is the ultimate bandwidth pig.  The 2nd  reason is that bandwidth is not unlimited or elastic.  The more bandwidth that is consumed, the more bandwidth that must be added to maintain existing levels of service. That costs a lot of money.   Think that might push up internet rates to consumers ?

I get that no one really cares if Comcast has to spend money on capital improvements to add bandwidth to the home.  They should. Its pretty damn stupid to push consumption in a direction that will raise internet rates  to receive the same content for which there is already a phenomenal digital network in place to deliver that content.

Think about it for a minute Senator Franken. Comcast, and every large TV Provider has a digital network in place that can and does deliver gigabits of tv content perfectly,  every second of every day, to any TV set in any  home that is connected to their network. It works. Well.  What you are asking Sen Franken, is that Comcast duplicate the delivery of theirs and NBCUniversals shows on a network, the internet,  that is not, and has never been designed to handle the delivery of huge volumes of video and tv shows.

What you are forcing them to do is not only going to impact Comcast, its going to push ANY internet provider  on which NBCUniversal/Comcast owned shows are delivered to deal with the increased bandwidth needs your request requires. Increased bandwidth needs to the home means more money spent on infrastructure needed to support that delivery, which in turn is going to mean  HIGHER INTERNET RATES and/or caps on internet bandwidth consumption for consumers .   Did you even think through what would happen if NBCUniversal/Comcast was required to simulcast  the Olympics over the internet ?

What do you think? Who’s right here?

Worst Winter Olympic PR Scandals of All-Time

Think you have PR problems? At least you don’t have corrupt judges and a drunken skier on your hands.

Business Insider recently took a look at the worst Winter Olympics PR disasters of all time. Lowlights include the Harding/Kerrigan debacle, Denver refusing to host the games after being awarded them in the 1970s, and a couple are unfortunately from the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. A snippet:

NBC: The network that prevents you from watching the Olympics.

In the age of Twitter, 24/7 real-time online news coverage, and real-time everything, NBC still thinks it’s 1976, and that the best way to cover the Olympics is via tape delay.

Actually, that’s the worst way to cover the Olympics. For instance, by the time NBC got around to airing Bode Miller’s downhill run last night, everyone already knew that he came in third place.

For the record, despite my issues with NBC’s lack of live coverage, this has by far been the most enjoyable Olympiad for me. Discussing this with friends recently, we decided the Winter Olympics are so much fun because these are events we don’t see otherwise. While curling is enjoying unprecedented recognition, I’ve personally found a new love for downhill skiing, Snocross and even ice hockey. Most importantly, it’s been great to see Canada and its famously welcoming people garner some well-earned recognition for the nation’s gorgeous West Coast.

Conan the Destroyer: A Lesson in Making Sure Your Best Performers are Happy

In the business world, there are some companies that work under the mantra, "People should feel lucky to work here, so … whatever." And then there are some companies (see our Best Places to Work in Indiana award winners) who ask, "What can we do to make people want to stay here?" One can guess which model is most likely to breed success.

All businesses should take heed of NBC’s Conan O’Brien/Jay Leno saga that’s currently unfolding. Much like customers, it’s far easier to retain a top employee than find someone new. And you never know when one of your top performers may be feeling disrespected and create real problems by going public with unflattering comments, like this statement O’Brien has released:

People of Earth:

In the last few days, I’ve been getting a lot of sympathy calls, and I want to start by making it clear that no one should waste a second feeling sorry for me.  For 17 years, I’ve been getting paid to do what I love most and, in a world with real problems, I’ve been absurdly lucky.  That said, I’ve been suddenly put in a very public predicament and my bosses are demanding an immediate decision.

Six years ago, I signed a contract with NBC to take over The Tonight Show in June of 2009.  Like a lot of us, I grew up watching Johnny Carson every night and the chance to one day sit in that chair has meant everything to me.  I worked long and hard to get that opportunity, passed up far more lucrative offers, and since 2004 I have spent literally hundreds of hours thinking of ways to extend the franchise long into the future.  It was my mistaken belief that, like my predecessor, I would have the benefit of some time and, just as important, some degree of ratings support from the prime-time schedule.  Building a lasting audience at 11:30 is impossible without both.

But sadly, we were never given that chance. After only seven months, with my Tonight Show in its infancy, NBC has decided to react to their terrible difficulties in prime-time by making a change in their long-established late night schedule.

Last Thursday, NBC executives told me they intended to move the Tonight Show to 12:05 to accommodate the Jay Leno Show at 11:35.  For 60 years the Tonight Show has aired immediately following the late local news.  I sincerely believe that delaying the Tonight Show into the next day to accommodate another comedy program will seriously damage what I consider to be the greatest franchise in the history of broadcasting.  The Tonight Show at 12:05 simply isn’t the Tonight Show.  Also, if I accept this move I will be knocking the Late Night show, which I inherited from David Letterman and passed on to Jimmy Fallon, out of its long-held time slot.  That would hurt the other NBC franchise that I love, and it would be unfair to Jimmy.

So it has come to this: I cannot express in words how much I enjoy hosting this program and what an enormous personal disappointment it is for me to consider losing it.  My staff and I have worked unbelievably hard and we are very proud of our contribution to the legacy of The Tonight Show. But I cannot participate in what I honestly believe is its destruction.  Some people will make the argument that with DVRs and the Internet a time slot doesn’t matter.  But with the Tonight Show, I believe nothing could matter more.

There has been speculation about my going to another network but, to set the record straight, I currently have no other offer and honestly have no idea what happens next.  My hope is that NBC and I can resolve this quickly so that my staff, crew, and I can do a show we can be proud of, for a company that values our work.

Have a great day and, for the record, I am truly sorry about my hair; it’s always been that way.

Bonus: And here’s O’Brien ripping his employer in his monologue.

Economic Club Speaker was Chided for ‘Outlandish’ Economic Predictions — That Came True

Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, was widely criticized by financial professionals and journalists for predicting a global financial crisis more than two years ago. Byrne, a native of Fort Wayne who received his education from Cambridge and Stanford, warned of a market meltdown perpetrated by cheap credit and writing checks on the bank accounts of future generations. The man who took Overstock.com from a half-million dollars in annual revenue to nearly $1 billion annually, takes little pleasure in accurately predicting our current economic situation but continues to advocate for what he feels are positive reforms – specifically to the controversial practice of short selling stocks.

Byrne will appear at the Economic Club of Indiana luncheon in Indianapolis on November 5. Get your tickets today.

On the Road to Pawnee

One of the perks of my job is writing for the Chamber’s award-winning BizVoice magazine. Not only does the BizVoice staff have the privilege of covering the ingenuity of Indiana’s many interesting businesses, but we’re also afforded the opportunity to visit the state’s many historic and beautiful towns — large and small.

One town we may never get to visit, however, is Pawnee — mainly because it does not exist (much to the chagrin of a columnist at the University of Southern Indiana’s student newspaper, who argues that setting "Parks and Recreation" in a real town could have helped Indiana tourism). At any rate, while it may not be real, the town does have a web site. Check it out here.

My favorite offerings from the site include:

Snow Removal Policy Revised
The city of Pawnee will no longer remove snow.

– and –

Pawnee Film Society
This week’s movie: Billy Madison
This week’s location: Daniel’s house
Same time as last week

– and especially –

Gypsy Cabs
Do not use Gypsy Cabs.

Is Indiana the New Scranton? NBC Comedy Set in Hoosier State

"Saturday Night Live" star Amy Poehler’s new comedy series will be set in Indiana. Pretty cool. Although, I think I speak for all Hoosiers when I say, "Please don’t make fun of us." 

In the mockumentary-style comedy, Poehler plays a mid-level bureaucrat in an Indiana city parks and recreation department who’s looking to get ahead.

The still-untitled series debuts 8:30 p.m. EST April 9.

Poehler’s portrayal of Hillary Rodham Clinton opposite Tina Fey’s Sarah Palin on "SNL" was a highlight of the show last year.

The new series isn’t intended as a satire on national politics but instead offers a comedic take on how government works in an American town, said Michael Schur, who’s executive producer along with Greg Daniels (of "The Office," NBC’s other mockumentary-style comedy).

Poehler’s character, Leslie Knope, finds her love of the democratic process tested as she faces defensive government workers, selfish residents and real estate developers.

 Bureaucracy? In Indiana? Well, I never…

What Tim Russert Could Teach Companies About Listening

Ronald Shaw of Shaw Marketing Partners, Inc. in Carmel recently penned a column in BizVoice articulating how businesses should truly listen to their customers. As an example, he referenced the late Tim Russert, acknowledging the "Meet the Press" host was known for his genuine approach to listening and offering thoughtful, effective follow-up questions.

Shaw advises companies to follow eight specific guidelines:

  • Listen to customers continuously. Instead of just taking the traditional “annual snapshot,” monitor your most strategic customers’ attitudes by talking to a portion of them every single month.
  • Get the big picture. Avoid getting a distorted view of a customer’s attitudes by getting feedback from individuals at various levels and within various parts of the customer organization.
  • Use a variety of listening methods. In addition to the traditional one-on-one depth interview, incorporate executive advisory board sessions, roundtable discussions, etc.
  • Don’t just talk to your own customers. Talk with prospective customers too in order to gain broader industry perspectives and get an objective view of how your organization is viewed in the broader market.
  • Ask engaging questions. In the customer feedback conversation, ask interesting, provocative questions that engage the emotions to get richer, deeper responses and more valuable insights.
  • Listen objectively without the usual built-in filters. Consider using an independent researcher to eliminate the possibility of bias and to ensure that vital insights are gained and channeled directly to company leaders.
  • Capture the exact words of your customers. Record and disseminate lots of verbatim comments so others will interpret their meaning exactly the way the interviewee intended.
  • Link employee compensation to customer attitudes. Realize that customer attitudes are leading indicators of their future behaviors. Then shape employee behavior by linking at least part of their compensation to customer attitudes.

Ohio Still Entangled in Lawsuits from Election — the 2004 Election

The Cincinnati Enquirer published an article last week claiming Ohio taxpayers are still "on the hook" for legal fees stemming from lawsuits against the state in the 2004 election. Yikes. It states there were 23 lawsuits against the former Secretary of State, with over $1 million still needed to settle seven of the suits.

All but one of the settled cases involved election law. That one, settled for $73,139, involved a business-records suit in which a Brown County truck driver sued because his Social Security number was posted on a state Web site.

Last week, the Ohio Controlling Board OK’d payment of the latest judgment, awarding five TV networks and the Associated Press $325,521 in attorneys’ fees and expenses from a 2004 case. The lawsuit challenged (former Sec. of State Ken) Blackwell’s order to block ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC, Fox News and the AP from conducting exit polling within 100 feet of the polls on Election Day 2004.

Brunner, a Democrat, fired some of the outside counsel hired to defend those cases shortly after she took office in 2007. But 13 of the cases remain active in state and federal courts, including a lawsuit that challenged Bush’s narrow re-election.

Pretty brutal considering times are tough and taxpayers need all the breaks they can get. No word yet if anyone plans to sue the Bengals for having to endure their games this season.

Hat tip to our very own Glenn Harkness for the info.