As part of a class exercise to commemorate Earth Day/Week/Month, second-graders at Trowbridge School of Discovery and Technology made creatures entirely out of recycled materials. The students in Mr. Koney’s class learned how recycling can impact the environment and wrote a report about their projects and how their families recycle. One student created a life-size replica of her Great Dane (far right)! The creatures will be on display at the school through Math and Science Night on May 9.
by Latrice Marie Winston
The Importance of BREAKFAST
Before I began my weight loss journey I had no idea how important breakfast is.
I often would succumb to a routine of eating a big lunch and dinner, thinking that I would lose weight because I was eating less total calories. I was completely wrong and I was destroying my natural metabolism! Your metabolism is important because it determines how quickly you burn calories, the faster it runs the more calories you burn while doing absolutely nothing!
Research show that the people who are most successful at weight loss eat a healthy breakfast within one hour of waking up. They also consume three energizing and metabolism boosting ingredients that every breakfast should consist of:
1. Whole grains
2. Lean proteins
3. Fruits or vegetables
One of my favorite breakfast recipes is a Greek Yogurt Parfait. It takes only a few minutes to assemble, plus it’s delicious!
This recipe contains only 215 calories and has a good amount of protein at 14 grams.
• 1 cup of greek yogurt
•1/3 cup of fresh fruit
•1-1/2 tbsp of granola or protein cereal (I like Kashi Go Lean Crunch)
Mix fresh fruit and yogurt together then add granola or protein cereal on top! Yum.
If you have more time try this spin on traditional oatmeal!
Power Oatmeal Pancakes
Serves 4 people and makes 12 pancakes
3 pancakes are 274 calories and have 16g of protein.
•2 1/2 cups of dry rolled oats
•6 egg whites
•1 cup low fat milk
•1tbsp ground flaxseed
•1tbsp safflower oil
•1 tsp baking powder
•1 tsp vanilla
1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend for 20 seconds. (If no blender, stir ingredients together by hand.)
2. Spray griddle with cooking spray then heat over medium heat.
3. Pour 1/4 cup of batter on griddle. Cook until pancakes are dry and bubbly on top and sides. Turn and brown the other side.
4. Top with unsweetened applesauce or mixed fruit and then ENJOY!! (Hint stay away from the heavy syrup)
Milwaukee, Wis.–Since tax season is underway, the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin reminds consumers about the importance of choosing a reliable tax preparer. According to the IRS, 80 percent of Americans will enlist the help of a tax preparer or tax software when filing their taxes. To avoid penalties and fees, the BBB encourages taxpayers to use caution when selecting tax preparation.
Tax preparation professionals offer a variety of services in addition to completing your returns. They are generally more familiar with tax saving strategies, can help you organize and plan for next year’s taxes, and help you determine if you are required to pay taxes each quarter. Make sure you choose a preparer who offers the services you need.
“Most tax professionals provide quality service,” says Ran Hoth, CEO/president of the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin. “Still, we’ve seen cases where businesses have closed suddenly or stopped communication with their clients. It’s important to check out a company’s track record and feel comfortable with the tax preparer that you choose to do business with.”
- Get references and do your research. Get referrals from friends and family on who they use and then check the company’s Business Review at bbb.org to see its BBB rating and BBB Accreditation status. Or, you can request a quote from a reputable BBB Accredited Business at bbb.org.
- Look for credentials. It’s recommended to seek a tax pro who is an Enrolled Agent, Certified Public Accountant or a Tax Attorney. IRS Regulations require all paid tax return preparers to apply for a Preparer Tax Identification Number. Reputable preparers will request your records and receipts to determine your income and qualifications for expenses and deductions.
- Get a firm estimate in writing. The cost of preparing your return will vary depending on the complexity and completeness of your information.
- Don’t fall for the promise of big refunds. Be wary of any tax preparation service promising larger refunds than the competition, and avoid tax preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the refund.
- Tax preparer accessibility. Many tax preparation services only set up shop for the months leading up to tax deadline. In case the IRS finds errors, or in case of an audit, you may need to be able to contact your tax preparer after the April due date. Make sure you have complete contact information and will be able to contact the tax preparer throughout the year.
- Never sign a blank tax return. Review the entire return and ask questions before signing it. Make sure the preparer includes their Preparer Tax Identification Number (“PTIN”), required by law for all paid tax preparers. Also, the preparer must give you a copy of the return. Keep in mind that you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of your return.
- Avoid refund anticipation loans. Tax preparers often offer refund anticipation loans to allow you to immediately receive your tax refund; however, this is not an actual refund from the IRS but a short-term loan from the company typically with a high interest rate. To avoid refund anticipation loans, consider filing electronically and requesting your money be direct deposited.
President Barack Obama greets a crowd of supporters. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)
Some say he ignored blacks’ needs in his first term. Here’s what Sharpton and others hope for now.
by Keli Goff, The Root
(The Root) — President Barack Obama has been a target of endless criticism since taking office, most notably from conservative corners, as well as from some blatant racists. But despite the nearly universal support he enjoyed among African Americans in both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, some of his most impassioned critics have come from within the black community, and some of their most passionate criticism has focused on the concern that the first black president has not focused on addressing issues of particular importance to the black community or on successfully tackling a black agenda. The Congressional Black Caucus was especially critical of the Obama administration’s silence on black unemployment, for instance.
The question now emerging since the president’s decisive re-election is whether we’ll see greater focus on issues of particular importance to the black community in the second Obama term, and if so, which issues.
Frustration in Some Corners
After the 2012 election Yvette Carnell wrote in the Black Agenda Report, “Now we are all left hoping and wishing that, for the sake of his legacy, President Obama doesn’t forget about us during his second term. The smart thing to do would’ve been to secure something, such as legislation to reduce black unemployment or mass incarceration, before the election, but we weren’t smart. We were tribal.”
In a piece for the L.A. Progressive titled “Black America Calling for a ‘Black Agenda,’ ” Anthony Asadullah Samad wrote, “Of course, we know he’s President of all the people. We got that, but what is the real significance of laying claim to the first African American president if a core constituency cannot ask for anything?”
He then continued, “What are ‘black issues’? Historically, they are jobs, education, health care, prison re-entry and economic development of deprived communities — all issues listed in Smiley’s covenant.” Samad was referring to PBS host Tavis Smiley, whose relentless criticism of the president’s leadership on poverty and issues important to the black community has made him a target of criticism.
For instance, during one of his shows Smiley pointedly challenged Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee on whether President Obama would ever get away with exhorting other communities to “stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying,” as he said to the Congressional Black Caucus during a speech last year. “Would the president ever say to an audience of our Jewish brothers and sisters, concerned about the crisis in the Middle East, ‘stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying’?” Smiley posed to Jackson Lee. “[Would he say] to our Hispanic brothers and sisters on immigration and their concerns, ‘stop grumbling, stop complaining, stop crying’? Did he say to gays and lesbians, ‘stop grumbling, stop complaining, stop crying’? How does he get away with saying this to black folk when he would never, ever form his lips to say that to any other constituency?”
Hopefulness in Other Quarters
Among those who have disagreed with Smiley’s criticisms of the president is civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton. The host of MSNBC’s PoliticsNation has previously criticized those who have condemned President Obama’s commitment to issues central to black Americans, while celebrating white presidents who have done less.
In a BET town hall debate Sharpton noted that many black Americans referred to Bill Clinton as “the first black president” while some of his policies were harmful to the black community, yet these same black Americans criticize President Obama with abandon. In an emailed statement to The Root, Sharpton cited unemployment among people of color, the education achievement gap between black and white students, racial profiling and judicial inequities as issues of hyper-importance to black Americans that he hopes will make even greater progress in a second Obama term.
“President Obama has provided 72 straight months of increased [numbers of] private sector jobs,” Sharpton wrote, “and now the Obama administration must fight the Republicans to increase public sector jobs, where blacks and Latinos work disproportionately. The administration must also force private companies to hire more blacks and Latinos.” He also cited the Trayvon Martin tragedy as a reminder of why the president must make equal protection under the law and inequity in the criminal justice system for black Americans an ongoing priority.
Progressive radio host Mark Thompson of SIRIUS XM’s “Make It Plain” show is among those who expect to see more vocal commitment from President Obama for a black agenda in a second term. Thompson, who is African American, recently moderated the State of the Black World Conference town hall at Howard University, which focused specifically on the presidential election’s impact on black America.
Speaking to The Root, Thompson said, “The Obama administration, in its second term, has a duty to specifically address the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituency, the African-American base.” When asked if some black criticism of the president regarding a so-called black agenda has been unfair, Thompson replied, “Some have gone too far, and the criticism has gone from political to personal. But we need to solve the riddle of how African Americans support Democrats and not have Democrats take us for granted, knowing we have nowhere else to go.”
Thompson argued that vocal black critics of the president seem to have forgotten that he is not treating black Americans any worse than white Democrats before him. But when asked if it is fair for black Americans to expect more of President Obama because he is black, Thompson replied yes.
Imagining the Possibilities
Thompson’s vision is thus: “Because he’s an extraordinary transformative figure, President Obama should be able to unapologetically address the specific concerns of his own community and set a precedent for African Americans no longer being taken for granted by Democratic party politicians.” Elaborating on the transformative impact the president could have were he to make the black community a focal point of his second term, Thompson pointed out that black civil rights groups and a number of black Americans followed President Obama’s lead on same-sex marriage once he specifically affirmed his support for it.
This is an example of the “transformative influence of this president,” Thompson added. “Imagine if he used it directly for our community.”
Thompson emphasized the word “directly,” explaining that while the administration has implemented policies that have helped African Americans, the black community has not received nearly as much as direct acknowledgment as other communities comprising the Democratic base, such as Latinos and the LGBT community. Though Obama is not the first Democratic president to do this, he said, Thompson is hopeful that the precedent will end should Obama embrace black causes more directly in a second term.
One challenge the president faces was mentioned by Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, in a September 2012 interview with The Root. “I think this administration feels far more comfortable in dealing with LGBT or Latino issues because they will never be accused of embracing those issues more than others of the American public. But the moment the president says ‘black,’ they will begin to call him H. Rapp Brown and Eldridge Cleaver and [say], ‘he’s a member of the Black Panther Party,’ ” observed Cleaver. “The next African-American president will not be encumbered with that kind of weight on his or her shoulders.”
Mark Thompson shared an anecdote to illustrate the paralyzing impact this kind of thinking among black Americans who break barriers can have on the community. He recalled that John Thompson, the first black coach to lead a major college team to a national basketball championship, told him that while he worked hard to increase the diversity of referees, he worried that black referees would feel pressured to prove they were not biased in his favor and as a result his team may face unfair calls.
Mark Thompson speculated that whether it’s Obama or a black manager in the workplace, this fear ends up clouding what African Americans expect of each other. Sometimes the fear is founded. Sometimes it is not.
In an interview with The Root, Elinor Tatum, publisher and editor-in-chief of the Amsterdam News, the oldest black newspaper in New York, expressed hope that she will see the president press more of a black agenda in this term than he did in the last. “I really don’t believe there was a black agenda in the first term,” she said. “There was an agenda focused on poor people but not specific to black people, although [the policies] impacted black people in poor communities.”
Tatum cited education, jobs and addressing health care disparities beyond the scope of Obamacare as parts of the black agenda she would like to see addressed, now that Obama has secured another four years. “What I want to see in a second term,” she said, “is the president taking hold of who he is and translating that into action for people of color in this country. He has more of a luxury of being a black president now than he did in the first term. So now I want to see him be more of a black president than a president who happens to be black.”
The “emptiness” next to Bethel Baptist Church disappeared on October 27, 2012, when the Kindred Ties bus shelter, unceremoniously reappeared on the site it inhabited for the past six years.
Evelyn Patricia Terry, creator of Kindred Ties, offered her perspective on its importance as a public art piece that establishes a sense of place in the African American community and celebrates nurturing families, spiritual awareness, global knowledge, and educational achievement.
“Kindred Ties represents our history, culture, values, and what we incessantly speak of – thereby coalescing my ideas, the community’s ideas, and other artists’ ideas to share with the world,” Terry said.
Located in the busy six points’ intersection of 21st Street, W. Fond du Lac Avenue, and W. North Avenue the bus shelter’s disappearance March 17, bewildered Kindred Ties’ artists, employees in Seaway Bank across the street, and many concerned community organizers.
“What could have happened?” they asked Terry. Although as a public art piece, it now belonged to the community, Terry felt invested to solve the mystery. She eventually tracked it down through Sandy Kellner, Chief Operating Officer of the Milwaukee County Transit System.
Kellner explained that, hit by a car, Kindred Ties’ damaged frame forced immediate removal. This happened about Saint Patrick’s Day. In partial view to passersby, it rested in MCTS’ back lot on 17th Street, near Fond du Lac Avenue.
After establishing contact with Dean Amhaus, former Spirit of Milwaukee’s Executive Director and Ed Mordy, Spirit of Milwaukee’s financial consultant, a new bus shelter frame was purchased. Millennium Neighborhood Art Initiative, the original project host, provided restoration funds. The funds permitted the unharmed sixteen colorful welded sculpture images to be successfully transferred to a new bus shelter and the repaired Kindred Ties to be reunited with embedded bronze plaques at the original site.
After seeing it repaired, Terry said: “The positive energy that Kindred Ties summoned up for its creation and then for its restoration is extremely gratifying and speaks volumes to Milwaukee’s cooperative leaders. And Kindred Ties is appreciated. Offering unsolicited comments during installation, several transit users said, to me, that they were pleasantly surprised to have such a nice and different object in their neighborhood. Many were also surprised to learn that an African American woman originated the concept and secured funds to hire diverse Milwaukee artists and businesses to manifest Kindred Ties.”
As a principle of your organization, you clearly understand the importance of sales in the organization. You are wearing too many hats to play sales manager as well but do you really know how they are doing? If they aren’t hitting their revenue goals do you know why? Is it a viable reason? Do they have a battle plan to change that?
You have two challenges when your sales force prepares for battle:
Challenge 1: Like any kind of warfare, you have a distinct advantage when you can tap good and reliable intelligence. Here’s the problem: Your salespeople don’t get enough accurate intelligence about their prospects. As a result, their pipelines are filled with flaky opportunities. And your sales managers don’t have enough guts to call them on it.
Here’s the litmus test. When your sales people submit their forecasts, do you or your managers “adjust” them down for realism? It’s typically easier for salespeople and their managers to discuss why they didn’t win business, instead of asking themselves the right questions before going to battle.
Here are some of the right questions:
- “Can we win and should we pursue this opportunity?”
- If yes, how do you know? What is the reasoning? A guess? A hunch?
- “Which strategy should we adopt to ensure that we win and why?
To begin, ask your salespeople: “How much does it cost to win a new account?” Calculate the actual costs associated with generating a lead, a contact, an appointment, a proposal and a sale. Now add in the opportunity cost of missed business they could have won if they weren’t wasting time on business that won’t close quickly.
If you’re like most selling organizations, the cost per pursuit is several hundred or even thousands of dollars. Multiply that by the number of opportunities you chased and didn’t close in the last 12 months. Staggering isn’t it?
Before your sales people charge off to fight the next battle, ask them, “If this was your money, would you spend it?”
Challenge 2: Your sales people don’t do enough planning work before going to battle.
Before going into battle again, make sure your salespeople can answer these questions (honestly):
- What are you trying to sell and most importantly, why? Sounds simple enough until you actually try to quantify it.
- Is the project funded? What if there’s not enough? Who has discretionary use of the funds? Who can get more? Are we speaking to the right person here?
- What is the sale worth to the organization? Does the ROI justify the investment of time, money and effort?
- Have we sold this prospect anything in the past? Who? What? Where? When? How? Why?
- How many contacts have you already had with this contact? How many phone calls, face-to-face meetings and so on? Do you have a clear next step?
- Do you have an organizational chart? Do you have an inside coach?
- What has been (or will be) your sales strategy?
- Where are you in the selling process? Here is a checklist:
- Were you invited in or did you beg for an appointment?
- What were the prospect’s reasons for seeing you?
- What were the challenges, problems, and frustrations that you identified in the interview?
- How important is it to the prospect to fix those problems?
- How committed is the prospect to fixing those problems? (Time, effort, money, willingness to fail?)
- What is the agreement you and the prospect have reached concerning the decisions that will be made each step of the way?
Few salespeople understand the cost of pursuing sales and often fill their funnels with bad business. Fewer think through winning strategies before going into sales “battle”.
Ask your sales people these fundamental sales questions before committing resources to a battle you cannot win.
Successful sales professionals qualify vigorously and religiously before committing time and energy so their closing ratios are 90% or better.
So, what are yours?
Greta Schulz is president of Schulz Business SELLutions in West Palm Beach, Florida. She is the best-selling author of “To Sell is Not to Sell”. Greta does corporate training for fortune 1000 companies and she has an on-line training course for entrepreneurs. For more tips go to: www.schulzbusiness.com.