Mistakes happen

We all make mistakes. When you make a mistake, it's important to admit it, fix it and move on. Following are mistakes some companies made and had to correct:

  • A national testing service used the wrong answer key to grade an exam required for high-school graduation in Minnesota. As a result, about 8,000 students were told they failed though they passed the test. The company has agreed to pay the students as much as $7 million to settle the case.

  • To launch a new product, a software company placed its logo decals on traffic signals and sidewalks. The company had to remove the decals after the city threatened to give it $50 fines for each decal.

  • A major business magazine released its "Novemer" issue.

  • A wireless telephone company sent a newspaper reporter a sample of its new product—an innovative disposable cell phone. But the reporter received parts from another major cell phone manufacturer. The wireless telephone company had to admit it missed its release deadline.

Source: Business 2.0 as cited in First Draft, August issue.

Top 10 investment scams

It's important for investors to stay vigilant to avoid making mistakes. Following are the top 10 investment schemes of which to be aware:

  1. Unlicensed securities dealers—independent insurance agents, financial advisers and accountants who sell stocks without being licensed.

  2. Dishonest stockbrokers—those who make unauthorized trades, sell inappropriate investments and bill unexplained fees.

  3. Conflicts of interest—research analysts who favor client companies at the expense of investors.

  4. Fake promissory notes—fraudulent short-term bonds promising high returns from nonexistent companies.

  5. Prime bank schemes—money managers who say they track the same investments as premier institutions but don't.

  6. Viatical settlements—securing life insurance policies for patients who lie about their prognoses.

  7. Affinity fraud—misdirecting church and other nonprofit donations.

  8. Charitable gift annuities—fraudulent charitable organizations that find investors by touting tax breaks.

  9. Oil and gas schemes—getting investors to fund wells that don't produce.

  10. Equipment leasing—selling fake leases on ATM machines, pay phones and Internet kiosks.

Source: Adapted from BusinessWeek as cited in First Draft, February issue.

Stopping gossip sessions

Gossip is as much a part of a workday as checking e-mail. But some conversations can turn nasty and focus on others' faults. To stop gossip, follow these tips:

  • Change the subject. Bring up another topic of discussion, such as families, hobbies or work issues. Talking about something else lets people know you don't want to gossip and allows them to gracefully stop gossiping.

  • Call a halt. If people don't pick up on your hint, be more direct. You can say, "I'm not comfortable talking about Sam when he's not here. Let's talk about something else." Don't apologize for interrupting the group.

  • Deliver a message. Don't tolerate slander or prejudice. Say: "It's wrong to gossip this way. You wouldn't want any of us gossiping about you." Employees may enjoy gossip about someone else, but no one wants to be gossiped about.

Source: Adapted from Gossip as cited in The Manager's Intelligence Report, July issue.

NRCA takes it to D.C.

September was a busy month for legislative issues. In addition to holding its Fall Committee Meetings and Legislative Conference (which will be highlighted in the December issue), NRCA also issued three position papers and one Special Report.

In one paper, NRCA urges Congress to amend Section 168 of the Internal Revenue Code to revise the depreciation period for roof systems. For more information, see "Evidence of depreciation."

In addition, NRCA issued two position papers describing proposed legislative action and urging Congress to pass or amend bills that are beneficial to small businesses and the roofing industry. In the papers, NRCA urges Congress to pass the Small Business Health Fairness Act of 2003 (HR 660/S 545), as well as comprehensive immigration reform legislation that would establish adequate legal avenues for foreign workers.

In the Special Report titled "DOT hazardous-materials security plan rules," NRCA provides information about compliance with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Research and Special Programs Administration's hazardous-materials security plan rules that became effective Sept. 25. The Special Report provides an explanation of the new rules and offers a security plan template.

The Sept. 11 events provided the impetus for DOT to develop new rules directed at safeguarding the transportation of the hazardous materials that are moved daily on U.S. roads. Implementation of the security plan components by roofing contracting companies that transport certain hazardous materials is expected to reduce the potential for terrorists to use these products as weapons.

Companies that transport propane, cutback products, mastics, adhesives or other hazardous materials, should review the explanation of the new security plan rules.

NRCA members can click here to find NRCA's position papers and Special Reports online in the Members Only section.


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