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Environment, leadership, Newsroom

Sustainable Business: 5 things sustainability managers can learn from the adult entertainment industry

Last week my friend Stephen Nemeth of 2degrees wrote this post that is definitely a worthwhile read for any business leader. As he put it, first off, yes, this article is safe for work. 2degrees is the world’s leading business community for driving growth, efficiency and profit through sustainability.

Despite its, um, interesting choice of content, the U.S. adult entertainment industry bring in close to $12 billion annually, about the same size as the GDP of Iceland. One estimate places the global industry at close to $100 billion. Adult entertainment has been immensely successful, comprising nearly 25% of all internet searches, with millions of viewers each year.

Of course, as any advertiser will tell you, sex sells. Clothing brands have known this for a long time and even a few less sexy products like tire valve caps have gotten in on the game. Now, I’m not suggesting you use racy pictures to hawk solar panels (please don’t). However, an industry as successful as this one deserves a bit of investigation to see if there are some lessons we can extract and extrapolate to sustainable business. So here are 5 lessons that might surprise you: Continue Reading

Entrepreneurship, Environment, FTMBA, Global Business, Newsroom, OCB Commentary

Olympic Games and Business Opportunities

Beijing Olympic Bird's nest

By Maria Wang, Full-time UST MBA class of 2013

The entire planet will be celebrating for the 2012 London Olympic Games in a few days. The British government should take full advantage of the business opportunities emerged from hosting and present the world an unforgettable Olympic event. There are some concrete lessons London can learn from Beijing’s recent Olympic experience – any my own attending the 2008 games.

Four years ago, China successfully hosted the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.  As a Chinese citizen, I still vividly remember the excitement I had while watching one of the games in Bird Nest that summer. Today, there is no doubt that Chinese people are benefiting from the ripple effects caused by the Olympic Games. Continue Reading

Environment, Faculty, Newsroom, OCB Commentary

The Effects of Natural Time Cues on Consumer Judgments – 5 Questions with Prof. Sackett

Have you ever felt like an experience was better because it felt like “time flew by”? Research by Aaron Sackett, assistant professor of marketing, looks to prove this area of consumer behavior. Here is what we learned from Professor Sackett about this topic:

Professor Aaron Sackett

Q. How can the sun make movies better?

A. This research examines how people’s feelings of time’s progress can influence their recollections of events they’ve just experienced. Specifically, it’s about how moments of surprise regarding how much (or little) time has passed can make people believe that they were enjoying themselves perhaps just a bit more (or less) than they actually were. If you’ve ever had a moment when you looked at your watch, or out the window at the setting sun, and thought, “where did the time go?!”, you know what I mean. You may have also had the opposite happen to you: You look at your watch and can’t believe how slow time is going (students report dull lectures as a common instance, although this surely never occurs in my own classes!). A short while back, I published a series of studies looking at how these moments of surprise influence people’s evaluations of the events that immediately preceded them. It turns out that when people experience these “time warp” moments, they reliably draw false conclusions about the events that led to them: If they feel that time “flew by,” they believe that they enjoyed themselves more (also, if they feel that time “dragged on,” they believe that they enjoyed themselves less). In other words, the exact same experience can “feel” more enjoyable if it’s followed by a moment that leads us to think, “wow, time must’ve really flown!” than if it’s not followed by such a moment of surprise. Continue Reading

Environment, Local business, Media, Newsroom

Can JCP’s Ron Johnson Bring the Target and Apple Magic to the Struggling Retailer?

Ron Johnson, CEO of JCP (J.C. Penney’s for everyone who has not adopted the company’s new branding) has an impressive resume of retail successes. He is recognized for bringing high design products such as the Michael Graves lines into Target Stores and most notably, launched the Apple store concept and Genius Bars throughout the country. Now that he has taken the reigns of JCP, he is working to reenergize the company that, quite simply, was in need of a new strategy. Stephanie Clifford of the New York Times wrote:

“While many shoppers go to Walmart for price, Target for cheap style, high-end stores for luxury treats and the Web for ease, stores like J. C. Penney have faded into the background.”

Of the new JCP strategy, Dave Brennan, professor of marketing at the University of St. Thomas, Opus College of Business stated that  Johnson is working to reposition to an upscale department store more comparable to Macy’s. The J.C. Penney strategy had previously been comparable to Kohl’s. Their primary consumer is aging and the business model is tired. In addition, they are working to reduce the pitfalls that come along with promotional pricing. Prices had traditionally been inflated in order to accomodate the price decreases during sales. Rather than the unpredictable sale pricing, JCP has adopted an everyday stable pricing strategy with limited sales and markdowns on a consistent schedule. Consumers will know what to expect for pricing on the merchandise rather than taking the risk of going in when their favorite items are not on sale. This also creates staffing efficiencies for the company as they do not need as many staff in order to facilitate pricing change.

By dissecting areas of the new retail strategy, it becomes clear that Johnson has brought elements of his past experience into JCP. From the store layout, branding and leadership team, the new JCP has a foundation for a successful rebirth with concepts pulled from both Apple and Target’s success.

Johnson clearly has a good understanding of the target demographic for both Target and Apple stores. This is not the same demographic as the J.C. Penney of old. These changes are positioning the company to be more closely aligned with department stores like Macy’s in terms of merchandising and target market. Johnson is trying to attract new customers to JCP, specifically, skewing to a younger crowd who are brand and trend conscious but also on a budget. This is starting to sound a lot like Target. Continue Reading

Environment, Local business, Media, Newsroom

You May Want To Stand Up (Not Sit Down) For This…

On average, how many hours do you spend sitting while in your office each day? If it is under six hours, you are doing better than most. According to a 2010 study by Ipsos, a France based research company, the average US employee sits for 6 hours per day in front of their computers and another hour per day in meetings.

Why does sitting too much matter?

  • “For people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.” says Martha Grogan, cardiologist, Mayo Clinic (JustStand.org)
  • Ipsos found that about 60% of those surveyed thought they would be more productive if they had the option to stand up more.
  • “Today, our bodies are breaking down from obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, depression and the cascade of health ills and everyday malaise that come from what scientists have named sitting disease.” says James Levine, MD, Ph.D.
  • The American Cancer Society found that by sitting longer than six hours per day, women are 94% more likely to die prematurely. Continue Reading
Environment, Ethics, leadership, Newsroom, OCB Alumni

Combine Business with Philanthropy: Hearts & Hammers Project Day

The Graduate Business Alumni community will be participating in a Hearts & Hammers project on Saturday, June 2Hearts & Hammers  is a nonprofit organization that provides home improvement assistance to elderly or disabled homeowners in the Twin Cities area so they may continue living independently.   If you are unable to take part in our project, you can make a donation to support Hearts & Hammers.

Check out photos from last year’s event Continue Reading

Environment, Ethics, Newsroom, OCB Alumni

One Alum’s ‘Best for the World’ Business @thedatabank

Karen Graham, MBA ’03, can now say she truly has one of the “Best for the World” jobs.  Her employer, thedatabank, inc., was recently recognized by B Lab, a nonprofit organization committed to building a portion of the ecomony dedicated to solving social and environmental problems, as one of the ‘Best for the World’ companies.

The Best for the World list is comprised of businesses who have completed the B Impact Assessment and, on average, hold a score that is two times higher than other sustainable businesses.  The B Impact Assessment is the most detailed assessment of overall corporate impact.

“thedatabank is a leader in the global movement to redefine success in business,” said Jay Coen Gilbert, co founder of B Lab, the nonprofit organization that governs the B Impact Assessment and certifies B Corporations. “thedatabank is among the best in the world at being the best for the world.”

Karen has been working with thedatabank since earning her MBA from the University of St. Thomas in 2003. Since joining thedatabank she has adhered to the shared vision of being a profitable business with a social mission.  thedatabank is driven to provide high performance software solutions to nonprofit organizations.  Chris Hanson, thedatabank CEO is also a Tommy. Furthermore, the culture at thedatabank is formed on guiding principles of respecting diversity, fostering innovation, and producing sustainable employment for the community.

Environment, Ethics, Newsroom

2012 Diversity Awards Winners Announced

Four champions of workplace diversity were honored during the 24th annual Multicultural Forum on Workplace Diversity, the nation’s leading conference on diversity and inclusion,  March 22 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

The forum is designed for professionals who manage a diverse workforce, are responsible for diversity within their organization or work with a multicultural clientele. The Diversity Awards are given to individuals or organizations that show exemplary effort in addressing workplace diversity issues. 2012 Recipients include:

Continue Reading

Environment, Ethics, Newsroom, OCB Commentary

John Abraham Takes a Stand

John Abraham

The feature story in the winter edition of the St. Thomas Magazine highlighted for me one more example of why I am proud to be a part of the University of St. Thomas community. Assistant professor of mechanical engineering John Abraham took up the global-warming torch and presented the scientific case against Christopher Mockton of Scotland, one of the world’s most verbal and prominent global-warming skeptics. Continue Reading

Centers, Environment, Ethics, leadership, Newsroom

4 Trends in Corporate Responsibility

By Ron James, Center for Ethical Business Cultures (CEBC)

I recently joined a panel discussion at a National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) conference on the subject of Corporate Strategy and Long Term Sustainability. The panel was facilitated by the head of Corporate Responsibility at Coca Cola joined by a board director from Newport Mining and Southern Company and the director of Corporate Governance at CalSTERS.

In reflecting on the panel discussion, 4 themes emerge: Continue Reading