Who Thought This Was a Good Idea (1)

Book review: The hard work behind the top dog

“Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?” by Alyssa Mastromonaco (with Lauren Oyler), 2017, Twelve, $27, 256 pages
Your boss is a VIP: a very important person. Nothing gets done without approval from the executive suite and nothing is unnoticed. There’s a finger on the pulse of your company at all times, which is probably how The Boss got to the top. And in the new book “Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?” by Alyssa Mastromonaco (with Lauren Oyler), you’ll see what it’s like to work for a guy who’s more than just the president of a corporation. Born in the mid-1970s and raised in small-town Vermont, Mastromonaco says she was independent early on and marched to her own drummer, but wasn’t particularly political unless it was “cool.” Nevertheless, one summer between college semesters, she interned for Bernie Sanders and discovered what she wanted to do with her life.

The new Burke Hotel and Conference Center is open 365 days a year. Photo by Adam Lukowski.

The new Burke: A mountain on the move

Burke Mountain Ski Resort boasts some legendary terrain and a bodacious glade system. Many of the country’s best competitors sharpened their skills on the mountain, which is home to Burke Mountain Academy. This leading ski academy graduated 33 Olympians and 138 national team athletes, including Mikaela Shiffrin, the 2014 Olympic gold medalist in slalom and current Women’s World Cup overall title leader. But for all the ski resort’s pluses — 2,011-foot vertical, diversity of trails, high-speed lifts, separate novice and learning areas, location near interstates 91 and 93 — Burke has remained something of an undiscovered jewel. That may be changing, thanks to the new Burke Hotel and Conference Center and to Burke recently being designated as an official U.S. Ski Team Development Site, the nation’s first.

New laws affect opioid prescribing practices

For several years now, we’ve heard both nationally and at the state level that we are living through an unprecedented opioid epidemic. As part of the effort to combat this crisis, the federal government has taken aim at opioid prescribing practices. In March 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain to provide best-practice recommendations for primary-care doctors. In Vermont, the Legislature passed legislation, signed into law in June 2016, which put in place a number of new regulations aimed at combating opioid abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an estimated 20 percent of patients visiting doctor’s offices with noncancer pain symptoms or pain-related diagnoses are prescribed an opioid medication.

Phil Young and Chris Perry fill bottles and growlers at Hill Farmstead Brewery in Greensboro.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / Staff File Photo

Vermont’s craft beer boom maturing

Vermont has become well known not only on a national level, but on an international level for its artisan craft beer. Craft breweries are growing, and the industry contributes approximately $199 million to the Vermont economy annually. Vermont is ranked number one in the nation for breweries per capita based on population and is recognized as a leader in this thriving trend. Yet, some predict this big beer boom may be losing its fizz. “The craft beer industry is calming down from 15 to 18 percent growth in previous years to 9 to 11 percent for this past year,” said Gregory Dunkling, program director of UVM’s Business of Craft Beer Program.

Small businesses’ hiring freeze begins to thaw

The Associated Press
NEW YORK — The hiring freeze at small businesses looks like it’s finally thawing. Recruiting is picking up after being dormant at many companies even years after the recession. The factors behind companies’ decisions to hire vary, with some anticipating a big revenue kick from the Trump administration’s spending plans for defense and infrastructure. Others are responding to trends such as consumers’ shift to online shopping, which means more jobs at internet retailers. And some hires are at companies whose customers are suffering from anxiety in the early days of the new administration.

Heidi Clute

Surviving family business transition nightmares

There are times when imagining the worst-case scenario helps you prepare most effectively for the best case. The transition of a family or closely held business is one of those times. Harvard Business School reports at least half of all companies in the U.S. are family businesses — and just over half of all publicly listed companies in the U.S. are family owned. But the most-cited family business statistic is from John Ward’s seminal study finding only 30 percent of firms survive through the second generation; 13 percent survive the third generation and only 3 percent survive beyond that. The Family Business Institute identifies a major cause as the failure to imagine and plan for worst-case situations that could dramatically affect not only ownership succession, but management succession planning and leadership development.


“Extreme Teams” useful but hard to implement

“Extreme Teams” 2017, by Robert Bruce Shaw, Amacom, $27.95, 247 pages
No man is an island. He (or she) can’t do everything alone. We need help sometimes; a group of support, a posse with our best interests in mind. We often need a team to get things done, and in the new book, “Extreme Teams,” by Robert Bruce Shaw, you might learn how to assemble your best. At natural food store chain Whole Foods, employees work differently.

Robert Layman / Staff Photo

Proceeds lag as hunting population ages

In a few weeks, the first hunting season of the year will commence, with many licenses already purchased and hunters ready to get out in the woods. Hunters pay for a significant portion of wildlife conservation money, and sale of hunting licenses is a principal part of that funding, but proceeds may be declining. About a decade ago, approximately 70,000 hunting licenses were sold each year in Vermont. That number has declined by three percent in recent years and the drop is expected to continue. “This decline is not due to lack of interest for the sport, it’s due to the largest group of hunters — the baby boomers — are getting older and reaching the age where they can apply for a license at no cost,” said Kim Royar, special assistant to the Vermont commissioner of Fish & Wildlife.

Code for BTV brigade captain James Lockridge, of Big Heavy World, with other participants at the Code for America Summit in Oakland California, in November. He is fifth  from left in the third row. Courtesy photo

Big Heavy World takes lead in civic tech movement


BURLINGTON — Big Heavy World recently took over coordination of Code for BTV, hoping to inject new energy in to a “brigade” of volunteer technologists trying to create and maintain civic software and open data projects in greater Burlington. Big Heavy World is tech-savvy nonprofit music development organization. James Lockridge, its executive director, called Code for BTV, “A platform for bringing together people who have technology-related skills, to apply those skills to creating community benefits.” He referred to participants as “civic technologists,” which has largely come to replace the phrase “civic hacker,” as it is more inclusive of the spectrum of skills beyond coding — such as design, project management and archiving — participants are bringing to the movement. Code for BTV is an officially recognized brigade of Code for America, a national nonprofit founded in 2009 to promote the use of technology and access to data to help make government services simple, effective and easy to use. The three pillars of its work relate to health, justice and economic development.

Time for some financial spring cleaning

Spring is in the air, even if it’s not quite there on the calendar. This year as you shake off the cobwebs from winter and start tidying up around your home and yard, why not also do some financial spring cleaning? Actually, you can apply several traditional spring cleaning techniques to your financial situation. Here are a few ideas:
— Look for damage. Damage to your home’s siding, shingles and foundation can eventually degrade the structure of your home.