Interstate Journey

A Day Without Multitasking
by Liz Reusswig

Interstate TrafficI continue to ponder the analogy of traffic and its relation to multitasking and managing our businesses and life in general. Personally and professionally, the past couple weeks have provided much fodder. Today’s blog reviews a bit of what I’ve discovered personally.

Last week was wicked. Over several days, our family said good-by to my dear Aunt Nellie. Actually, she was my aunt-in-law, but through the years, she and I often joked that we were the outlaws. In reality, she was my aunt-in-heart. You know those people who enter your life and instantly seem to know your soul? They love and support you unconditionally and it has nothing to do with bloodlines – those are in-heart relatives and friends. I’m blessed to have and have had a number of these people in my life. I will miss my aunt, but in our final time together, she provided me something completely unexpected.

We had to drive 2.5 hours between services in New York and Connecticut along the infamous Interstate 95. Thankfully the traffic was light, the day was beautiful, and the ride, though long, was cathartic. After spending some time reminiscing, we mostly became quiet – each of us slipping into our own thoughts. For me, having previously lived in Connecticut, the familiarity of all we passed was welcoming. At the section where you can see the Long Island Sound, I wondered about the cargo ships – where they were from and what they might be hauling. At many exits, I longed turn off onto roads that lead to Connecticut friends whom I haven’t seen in too long, and accepted that there would be no reunions this trip. I studied the craggy trees and bushes that line the highway. Their imperfection is intriguing to me as it is borne from years of weathering the many storms that roll up the East Coast. Storms, like traffic, are so unpredictable.

Previously, I would never have considered a ride along the usually hectic I-95 a “four-way stop,” but on that day and in that time, it became exactly that. The frenetic traffic patterns of the many roads of my life paused – there was no multitasking, no worrying about other things. I was in the moment and it was as it should be. Somehow the sad ride along I-95 became a peaceful journey. We need these “four-way stops” to power down, reflect and renew.

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Liz Reusswig is the owner of EMR Strategies, LLC and the founder of Kid’s Theatre News.

The Uphill Battle Facing Small Business

Next Saturday, November 24th has been deemed Small Business Saturday, positioned between Black Friday and Cyber Monday in the post-Thanksgiving shopping spurt. On the surface, this is a very good thing. It brings widespread awareness to small business in general and should cause consumers to think of the little noticed shops they may routinely pass on their way to the big box store.

I must admit, however, that I have some skepticism about this initiative. First, it was launched by American Express, a multi-billion dollar, multi-national, corporation that may be about as far from “small” as one can get. AMEX has also registered the terms “Shop Small” and “Small Business Saturday”, which means that an actual small business may get into trouble if they used these terms in this context without permission or sanction from AMEX. I don’t mean to dump too much on American Express as I still think this is a great awareness campaign for small businesses, but let’s be frank; it is a big advertisement for their financial services.

There is also a bit of cynicism with the term “small business” itself. It has been volleyed around the political world in recent times as a mere catch phrase, well focus-tested and positive. In a way, saying you’re in favor of small business is like saying you’re for “world peace”, a great sounding concept, but totally meaningless unless you’re willing to look at the finer details needed to achieve such a lofty goal.

In the past political season, we’ve heard both sides speak how they were in favor of “small businesses” or the “middle class.” But when you look at some of the finer details, you see that the opposite is true. When the IRS audits a large corporation, they receive an average of $9,173 per man hour in recovered tax revenue. When small and medium size business are audited, that figure is only $702 per hour, a ratio difference of about 13 to 1 in actual dollars for the U.S. Treasury. Yet small-and-medium-sized-businesses are audited about 30% MORE than large corporations. Why?

The answer is that small businesses are easier targets. They don’t have the resources to properly fight these audits, so they are “low hanging fruit” for bureaucrats who are more concerned with their own success rates than actual dollars recovered for the taxpayers and, of course, this proves devastating for many small business owners. This stat alone should make you furious but there are many more examples of the deck being stacked against small business.

The point is, small business is a great attribute in a free society but there are many unnecessary burdens that inhibit our growth and survival. Most people agree that they want small business to thrive and it is time we all take some responsibility in challenging these burdens.

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