Street Talk

Street Talk: A few tips for this week’s ‘spring ahead’ sleepyheads

Crew cut special.

March 7, 2014
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Captain Phillips
Capt. Richard Phillips, the subject of an Oscar-nominated film, will be the featured speaker at Davenport University's business awards event in May. Courtesy Davenport University

With all the snow and cold out there and the winter dragging on and on, it’s not easy to feel springy enough to “spring ahead” this morning, especially in view of the lost hour over the weekend when adjusting to Daylight Savings Time.

Robert Half International has some thoughts on that. The $4.25 billion Fortune 500 company, based in Menlo Park, Calif., specializes in providing professionals — particularly accounting and finance — to companies throughout North America and also does frequent management surveys regarding staff productivity and hiring issues. So the Business Journal asked Alicia Sleight, manager of the Robert Half office in Grand Rapids, if productivity might be an issue today and if so what to do about it.

“You’ll want to eat a good breakfast,” said Sleight. “We encourage managers to keep the coffee flowing. Bring in bagels or doughnuts for the office to help people stay fueled for that first day.”

“Another thing: keep your schedule light for that Monday,” she said. (Please hold your applause; the boss might be listening.) If you can put some major task off until the following Monday, that might be a good idea, she suggested.

If a person doesn’t normally go out for lunch, today might be a good day to try it.

Sleight said her boss skips taking a Sunday nap like she normally does in order to sleep better through the abbreviated night when the clock is moved ahead. One of her co-workers sets multiple alarm clocks Sunday night to make sure he wakes up Monday morning.

Robert Half recently surveyed 2,100 CFOs and learned 58 percent of them start their Monday catching up with new emails. On a day like today, Sleight said, when you’re more likely tired to begin with, it might be a better idea to postpone the email assault and take care of necessary phone calls instead, since a conversation won’t make you as groggy as all those emails.

And since we’re now in March, here’s something else Robert Half learned recently that might be of interest to office managers: “Survey: Nearly One-Third of Executives Say March Madness Activities Boost Employee Morale.”

During the NCAA tournament, companies that allow employees to celebrate March Madness at work “may emerge as the real winners,” said RHI. More than one-quarter of executives surveyed said March Madness has a positive impact on worker productivity, which is up from results of a similar survey a year ago.

Now, if coach Tom Izzo and his Spartan crew can only get those same results.

Captains of industry

Maybe future Davenport University students won’t have to pay a king’s ransom to attend the school.

And they might have a man who knows a little about ransom to thank.

When Davenport honors Blake Krueger, CEO of Wolverine Worldwide, with its Peter C. Cook Excellence in Business Award May 2, the event’s featured speaker will be Capt. Richard Phillips, who in 2009 became the first U.S. ship captain in more than 200 years to be hijacked by pirates.

Phillips’ heroics were chronicled in the Oscar-nominated film “Captain Phillips,” starring actor Tom Hanks. The Excellence in Business Gala, which is the major annual fundraiser for the school’s scholarship fund, is scheduled for DeVos Place.

“This event will be a true celebration of business excellence as exemplified by Blake Krueger, who has achieved so much as the CEO of one of West Michigan’s most successful global companies and as a well-respected community leader,” said Richard Pappas, Davenport president. “Blake is a tremendous selection as recipient of the Peter C. Cook Excellence in Business Award. We also are excited to have Captain Phillips join us for this annual celebration.”

For five days in April 2009, the world was glued to their TV screens as Phillips became the center of an extraordinary international drama when he was captured by Somali pirates.

The crew managed to wound the apparent leader of the pirates and regain control of the ship. They demanded the other pirates leave the ship, but the pirates had scuttled their own small boat. They demanded an escape boat, fuel and food. To protect his crew, Phillips made a conscious decision to put himself directly in harm’s way, knowing he might pay the ultimate price for his decision. Amid the standoff, he offered himself as a hostage.

Once the pirates settled into one of the ship’s covered lifeboats, the crew attempted to trade the pirate they had captured for Phillips. After they released their captive, the pirates refused to honor the agreement and fled with nine days of food rations — and Phillips.

“His courageous story is intriguing and inspirational. Gala attendees will be interested to match up what really happened from Capt. Phillips’ perspective with what they saw on the news and in the movie,” Pappas said.

A cut above

A Michigan company has stepped up to offer $1 million in scholarships for veterans and their families who want to train for new careers in cosmetology, according to Jeff Barnes, director of the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency.

Douglas J has launched a new scholarship program, A Fresh Start on Service, offering veterans and their immediate families up to $5,000 to train at one of its four Michigan Douglas J Aveda Institutes. The company has set aside $1 million to provide 200 students with opportunities in its cosmetology and esthiology programs at its schools in Ann Arbor, East Lansing, Grand Rapids and Royal Oak. 

“This program is a great example of a Michigan company recognizing the value of veteran talent and investing in that talent,” Barnes said. “I congratulate Douglas J on this new scholarship program and hope to see it continue for many years to come.”

According to the school, full-time students can complete their studies and be working in one year. The company also boasts a 90 to 95 percent placement rate for graduates, many of whom choose to remain in Michigan. 

“These men and women — whether they are on the front lines or keeping the homestead running while a loved one is serving abroad — truly provide the highest form of service possible,” said Scott Weaver, president of Douglas J Companies. “This is our way of giving back, by helping those individuals and their families make the transition to a new career here at home.”

The scholarship is open to veterans, their spouses and their children who have completed high school or a GED and are 18 are older. For more information, visit douglasj.edu or call (877) 334-8657.

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