The True Value and Importance of Communication

communicating coworkersCommunication is extremely valuable in all relationships and in almost every setting. If you want to have a successful relationship with your spouse you must be able to communicate effectively with each other. If you want to have a positive relationship with your children, then you have to learn to communicate with them. Communication in the business world is just as important. As a business leader you must be able to communicate with your team and vise versa. It’s also important to have strong communication with your customers. The fact is, no matter what type of relationship it is, effective communication is going to be part of any recipe for success.

Ajay Banga and the Value of Communication

That point was driven home by Ajay Banga, president and chief executive officer of MasterCard, during an interview at an event at Stanford back in 2014. In addition, to being the CEO, Mr. Banga is also a member of the company’s board of directors. Before joining MasterCard, Mr. Banga was CEO of Citigroup Asia Pacific.

Listen and Learn

According to Mr. Banga, the importance of communication in the business world cannot be understated. “If you know how to communicate well, which by the way is the most underrated attribute when you’re young, but the most important attribute as you grow, is your communication,” then the opportunities are endless. Mr. Banga said that another important lesson he has learned is that if you have the drive and the passion to succeed, along with the ability to communicate well, “then there’s a whole new world out there.” Another important aspect of communication is effective listening, which is what takes to be able to learn from others. Mr. Banga said, the best way to be successful when starting a new relationship with a company is to “take the approach that you can learn from everybody. They’ve all got something they can teach you, and then you can bring the value you bring. But you’ve got to learn from everybody.” When you go about starting a new business relationship in this manner, Mr. Banga said, “It changes everything.”

Recipe for Success

This is the true recipe for success when it comes to communication. You have to be willing to listen to, and learn from, others and then share what you know with them. Learning the true value and importance of communication when you’re young can play a huge role in helping you develop and grow in your business career and opportunities, which will lead to real and lasting success.

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Do Risk Takers Make Good Leaders?


There are countless stories of leaders in the business world that have taken great risks in order to become successful. The fact is there is risk in almost any professional decision a person makes. Some choices carry much great risker than others, but risk is part of every decision we make. While you often hear about the great risks taken by some of the most successful business people and company leaders in the world, what you might not hear as much about their failures because of the unsuccessful risks they have taken. However, just about every great CEO or successful business leader will tell you that its the failures that have really led them to be successful, which is why you have to be willing to continue taking risks, even they turn out the way you had hope.

Characteristics of a Leader

Ajay Banga, president and chief executive officer of MasterCard and a member of its board of directors, is a great example of this. During an event at Stanford University several months back, Mr. Banga was asked to share one or two personality traits or characteristics about himself that have helped set him apart and allowed him to enjoy so much success compared to some other people that might not have achieved as much in their careers, or those who have seen their careers stall. Mr. Banga said that humility and the willingness to take risks are two big characteristics that have helped set him apart. “If you’re not willing to learn from people and always adapt or adjust and progress in your mind,” you can’t be successful.  Mr. Banga said, “I don’t know that you can diverse [humility] from success. I think it’s actually a key part of who you are and how successful you can be.” He added: “I think you can be successful without humility, but you won’t enjoy it as much.

Being a Risk a Successful Risk Taker

The second characteristic Mr. Banga discussed was the ability or willingness to take risks, in both your life and your career. Many of the world’s greatest business leaders are known to take big risks. That doesn’t mean they make huge decisions on a whim without any deep thought and consideration of all the possible outcomes. However, after careful consideration and calculation they end up taking educated risks, often resulting in big rewards. Mr. Banga feels that in order to be a good leader you have to be a risk taker. However, he’s not just simply referring to changing jobs or careers. He said you have to be willing to be a risk taker in all aspects of your life and career.

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How Much Are U.S. Companies Paying in Corporate Taxes?

how-much-are-us-companies-paying-in-taxIt’s no secret that the nation’s wealthiest individuals pay the most in taxes, but did you know that the United State’s corporate tax rate is also among the world’s highest? According to a report from Accounting Today, accounting and consulting firm UHY, says the U.S. corporate tax rate is 41.1 percent. That represents a much higher rate than the global average, which UHY reports is 27 percent.

A closer look at the numbers reveals that for European countries the average corporate tax rate is 25.3 percent, while the average rate for the G7 countries comes in at 32.3 percent. The good news for American companies is that the effective corporate tax rate is typically much lower than the 41.1 percent statutory rate. That number is often offset by several different tax deductions and tax-planning opportunities.

There are many advantages of having lower corporate taxes. For example, lower taxes can help free up more profits which in turn can help countries stimulate more new growth and contribute to creating a more competitive advantage by discouraging companies from jumping ship to foreign countries with more completive tax rates. Likewise countries with lower corporate tax rates can also attract businesses from other countries, which is also an effective way to improve a country’s economic growth and competitiveness.

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The Numbers Don’t Lie-The Wealthy Are Paying More Taxes

numbers-dont-lie,-wealthy-paying-more-in-taxesMore, more, more! So many people demand that the wealthy pay more taxes. ‘They must pay their fair share,” goes the battle cry. The question is what really constitutes a fair share? Truth be told, many of the nations wealthy pay a smaller percentage of taxes than most. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t paying their fair share. Want proof? Then look no further than the number the IRS reported: in 2014, those who made more than $100,000 paid a combined 79.5 percent of all federal income taxes.

A closer look at the numbers from the IRS shows that more than 148 million Americans filed a tax return in 2014. Of those, 23.7 million showed an AGI of a $100,000 or more. That equals 16 percent of all tax returns. Almost all of those returns reported tax due for a combined total of $1.079 trillion in taxes, which amounts to 79.5 percent of all federal income taxes paid in 2014.

Yes, the top 1 percent, or 16 percent in this case, make a lot more money than most people, but even though they have found many ways to lower their effective tax rate, they still pay nearly 80 percent of all the federal income taxes collected by the IRS. Is that a fair share? That’s a question for each person to answer.

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High Property Taxes Pushing Many New Yorkers to Relocate


Recently I posted a report that the number of wealthy individuals leaving Connecticut for more tax-friendly pastures has been increasing. It seems that Connecticut isn’t the only state that is facing this problem. According to a report in the Democrat and Chronicle, New York is also dealing with more people leaving due to high taxes; and it’s not just the wealthy.

Reportedly, 41 out of 50 upstate counties in New York saw their populations decrease between 2010 and 2015. The mass exodus it seems appears to be closely related to New York’s disproportionally high property taxes. One woman from New York, who moved to neighboring Pennsylvania, now enjoys a 60 percent decrease in her property tax bill. It dropped from $5,000 annually to just $2,000.

Despite the spin that some government officials are trying to put on the numbers, the fact is that between 2009 and 2014 the state took a hit of $22 billion in wealth, with $11 billion coming between 2012 and 2014. According to financial advisors, even though it’s a tough decision, for many the taxes savings are just too much to pass up. Combined with a slow economy the high property and income taxes leave many residents with no choice but to pack up for greener pastures.

Even many of the state’s retirees are starting to worry more about New York’s high property taxes, with 56 percent saying they are concerned about being able to pay these taxes in retirement, according to a report from the AARP. In fact, 55 percent of baby boomers reportedly said they fully expect that they will leave New York when they retire, and 66 percent of the Gen-X population said they are also considering doing the same.

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How to Create a Common Dream

dreams [Converted]

All companies are out to achieve successSuccess can be defined in many different ways, but in most cases companies define success by their results. Many companies have mission statements, common dreams – or goals – that they use to motivate their workforce or to define their purpose. These statements are also often used to define success. Mission statements can be a valuable tool to help keep everyone within the company focused on the goal or purpose of a company. They can be the common purpose that everyone shares that will be the steadying reminder of the desired end result. However, are these mission statements or definitions of success really a common dream? What’s more, is there really even such a thing as a common dream?

Developing a Common Dream Together

I asked Joel Peterson, Chairman of JetBlue and the Founder of Peterson Partners, his take on common dreams. Joel has spent many hours speaking and writing about trust and integrity, including authoring the book “The 10 Laws of Trust.” Joel started by telling me that people have a hard time trusting something or someone if they don’t know what the goal is. “A lot of companies will actually create these mission statements…that are kind of interchangeable.” These kinds of statements aren’t really a common dream at all, according to Joel. In reality they just sound good. “People want to frame them and put them up on a wall.” However, “if you develop a common dream together that inspires people – which gets back to the idea that people want to be a respected member of a winning team doing something meaningful – you can develop a mission around that and you’ll have people that you can’t stop.”

Helping Others Achieve Their Dreams

I also asked Joel the difference between a common vision and a common dream? I pointed out that a common dream really gives a better visual of trying to make something happen that does not currently exist. Joel said that the mission at Peterson Partners is to help entrepreneurs achieve their dreams. Entrepreneurs have big dreams and they want to change the world. They want to do something that no one else has done before so they think very big. Therefore, “we view our role as capital providers as people who provide help to them, to help them achieve their dreams; and that becomes our dream.”

Coming Together for a Common Purpose

A common dream is not a mission statement or a company mantra placed on bulletin boards throughout an office building. A common dream is created when people or companies come together with a vision and a common goal and then work together to achieve that mission or goal. Having a true common dream can go a long ways in helping all parties involved achieve the mission, or results, they are seeking. That can be a powerful driving force on the path to the success.

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Succeeding Against All Odds


Just about every startup business or entrepreneur faces tough odds, which at certain points can seem almost insurmountable. Achieving success is always gratifying, but when you achieve success against all odds, that satisfaction can feel even greater. Being able to overcome huge odds and obstacles is never easy, but many people have what it takes to keep pushing against those odds and eventually beating them. I recently spent some time visiting with one such person, who overcame great odds and helped Oracle become a huge success in the software industry. Noosheen Hashemi was a recent college graduate when she joined Oracle back in the 1980s. However, it didn’t take her long to establish herself as one of the company’s most valuable assets, despite her youth and inexperience.

Noosheen Hashemi

Currently Noosheen serves as the President of H.A.N.D. Foundation. She is also an Advisor at Atheer Labs, Inc. and is a Philanthropist with a passion for entrepreneurship and economic development. Noosheen is also an independent angel investor and advisor in the software industry. As mentioned, she also played a big a role in the successful turnaround of Oracle, where she worked and held various management positions between 1985 and 1995. Noosheen took an active part in the company’s rise in the industry. She was appointed Director of Finance and Administration in 1988 and named Vice President in 1990. She also led the expansion of Oracle services as VP of Marketing and Business Development for Oracle’s Worldwide Education, and in 1991, she won Oracle’s “Against All Odds Award.”

Keys to Achieving Success

So justhow did Noonsheen overcome the odds and all the competing goals of the company in order to become successful? She explained to me that at one point she was running 12 departments at the same time. She worked 18 hour-days, seven days a week for seven years and even pulled all-nighters, where she would work till 5:00 am then be back at 8:00 am for her next round of meetings. So how did she balance all these responsibilities? “It was intuition.” It was also some very basic things, which included “always serve in the best interest of the company above all else. So the loyalties were always to Oracle and not to any one person. It was always in service of efficiency and constant, continuous process improvement. It was always to be ethical, proper and then you add a lot of hard work.”

Testing Your Limits

Noosheen said it was a lot of intuition and you just knew what you had to do. Oracle was a great place to work because they put a lot of trust in young people to figure it out. They didn’t sit you down and explain how it had to be done, they gave you the assignment then trusted you to figure it out on your own. “As the company tested its limits each individual was testing there’s.”

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Why Is Integrity So Important for Building Trust?

two business men talking

One of the greatest attributes a business can have is trust. Trust is so important between a company and its customers, as well as between the leaders of a company and the rest of the staff right on down the line. Trust can take a long time to build, but it can be lost in no time at all. One really bad decision can crush all the trust a company has built up with its customers or a company leader has built with his or her employees. That’s why one of the key elements to building trust is integrity.

Joel Peterson – A Lesson in Integrity

I recently spent some time speaking with Joel Peterson, Chairman of JetBlue, founder of Peterson Partners and author of The 10 Laws of Trust. Joel knows a thing or two about building trust. He has enjoyed many years of success in capital investments in several industries. He currently teaches Entrepreneurial Management at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and serves as a Director of Franklin Covey. Joel also previously served as Managing Partner of Trammell Crow Company and he earned an MBA from Harvard Business School. I asked Joel why is integrity important when it comes to building Trust?

Integrity Is The First Law of Trust

Joel said that the first law of trust is integrity. “I think it’s very tough to build a high trust organization without the leadership having integrity.” Joel then explained that there are actually two kinds of integrity. “One is people do what they say they’ll do; there’s not a gap between what they say and what they do. The second kind is not compartmentalizing your life. It’s very tough to have integrity at work if you don’t have integrity in your personal life.” Joel noted that people can tell when others try to pretend that they have integrity at work but don’t have any integrity in their personal life. “If you want to build a high trust organization, it starts with the leaders having integrity.” If there is hypocrisy, there can’t be any trust.

Integrity in Times of Stress

I also talked with Joel about his experience as a leader and how he has seen firsthand the need for integrity within the organizations he has led or for which he has served as a board member. I asked him to share some situations where having integrity has really helped to establish some important decisions he has had to make. According to Joel, integrity helps the most when things get stressful. When everything is going well everyone feels good and trust is high. However, when things get tough and you are forced to do all the hard things that it takes to make a business work, that is when the trust that people have in you will help you get through those hard times. That’s why it’s so key for the leaders of an organization to have integrity.

To see my interview with Joel Peterson click here

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Starting a New Business? – Be Prepared for Taxes

business owner doing taxes

Starting and owning a new business can be very exhilarating but it can also be very stressful. There are so many important things to keep track of and dozens of tasks that need your attention. One thing that can get lost in the shuffle is your taxes.

First, the taxes you owe and how much you will have to pay will depend greatly on how you structure your business: whether it be a corporation (S or C), a partnership, a sole proprietorship or a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). If you’re not sure which one is right for you, we’ll be happy to explain the differences and help you set up the best structure for your needs.

As a business owner you could be subject to several different types of taxes, including income taxes, employment taxes, self-employment taxes and excise taxes. You are responsible for any of these taxes that are not automatically deducted. That means you have to pay quarterly tax installments. If you fail to do this you could end up being penalized and pay even more, including interest.

As a business owner you’re still not done. These are just the federal taxes that you need to track. You also need to make sure you are up-to-date on all state and local business taxes as well. Owning a business can certainly be exciting but don’t forget about your taxes along the way. The experts at GROCO can help. Call us at 1-877-CPA_2006 or click here.

For more information on tax tips when starting your own business click here
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How the Wealthy Save on Taxes


Whether you make minimum wage or you’re in the richest 1 percent of earners, every taxpayer likes to keep as much of his or her hard-earned income as possible. There are hundreds of ways to save on taxes and many of these strategies are universal to all taxpayers no matter which tax bracket they fall into. However, there are certain tax-saving tricks that are particularly useful for the wealthy.

One of the most common methods many high net worth individuals use to save on taxes is by using tax-deferred retirement savings plans. Of course, anyone can start a retirement plan, but because the wealthy have more disposable income they can put away large sums of tax-deferred money, which provides a huge boost in the so-called golden years.

Another tax-saving strategy employed by the wealthy is to use offshore companies. By creating companies in foreign countries the wealthy can store more cash reserves away from the high tax rates in the U.S. Although many decry this practice, it is perfectly legal.

While a lot of people complain about the wealthy, the fact is, many of the nation’s top earners are also some of the nation’s biggest givers, as in charitable donations. Donating large sums of money to charity is a great way to help others, as well as save on taxes.

Lastly, the “carried interest” tax is another common strategy employed by the wealthy. This allows investors to save on taxes because they can pay 20 percent less on “carried interest” compared to normal income.
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