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‘Excuse Me’: Etiquette and advice for a changing workplace

“Excuse Me: The Survival Guide to Modern Business Etiquette,” by Rosanne J. Thomas, 2017, Amacom, $21.95, 269 pages
Please. Thank you. Mom always called them the magic words. One opens doors at the front of a request; the other leaves them open at the end. Please.

Vermont Smoke & Cure, of South Barre.
PHOTO BY BRIAN NEVINS

Need a job? Look to Vermont’s food systems

Vermont’s struggle to grow its workforce weakens our economy, inhibits the ability for Vermont businesses to expand their operations, and threatens the ability for Vermonters and future generations to grow and thrive here in the Green Mountains. An aging workforce, stagnant wages in jobs without career ladders, the cost of housing and child care, the opioid epidemic, and a need for more young adults entering the workforce are all contributors to our workforce dilemma. According to a 2013 Vermont Food System Workforce Needs Assessment report, 40 percent of large employers and 50 percent of small employers surveyed said that hiring challenges are holding their businesses back, meaning they are faced with reduced revenue, less efficient production and delayed plans to expand into new markets or larger production spaces. Four years later, the challenges have only increased. The simple demographic fact is that more people are retiring and fewer people are entering the workforce each year.

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‘Power of Moments’ isolates impressions that drive us

“The Power of Moments” by Chip Heath and Dan Heath, 2017, Simon & Schuster, $29, 307 pages. It was quite the event. Your staff members really outdid themselves, and you were proud of them. Everybody pitched in, clients were overjoyed, and there wasn’t one attendee who didn’t leave without a smile and a promise to come back next year. In “The Power of Moments” by Chip and Dan Heath, you’ll see how to make your event even better.

Not feeling the recovery? You’re not alone

NerdWallet
Incomes are up, the stock market is soaring, and home prices have largely recovered from the mortgage meltdown. But Americans still haven’t regained all the wealth they lost and, on the whole, are worse off than in 1998. The Federal Reserve’s just-released Survey of Consumer Finances, done every three years, tells a stubbornly grim tale. Median net worth for all families, measured in 2016 dollars, dropped 8 percent since 1998. (The survey’s definition of families includes single people and childless couples and is equivalent to how other government surveys define households.) In addition:
— The lowest income families — the bottom fifth — saw their net worth fall 22 percent.

Stampeding bull market may slow down — be prepared

We’ve been enjoying a long period of steadily rising stock prices. Of course, this bull market won’t last forever. And when it does start losing steam, you, as an investor, need to be prepared. Before we look at how you can ready yourself for a new phase in the investment environment, let’s consider some facts about the current situation:
— Length: This bull market, which began in 2009, is the second-oldest in the past 100 years, and it’s about twice as long as the average bull market. — Strength: Since the start of this long rally, the stock market has produced an average annualized gain of 15.5 percent per year.

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‘You Don’t Own Me’ presents intriguing questions about ownership

“You Don’t Own Me: How Mattel v. MGA Entertainment Exposed Barbie’s Dark Side” by Orly Lobel, 2017, W.W.Norton, $27.95, 304 pages.  As a kid, what was your favorite toy? You can probably remember it instantly: the thing you couldn’t bear to leave at home, the doll you spent hours with, the toy truck that road-tripped your imagination. Just thinking of it gives you a warm feeling and a wistful smile, but in “You Don’t Own Me” by Orly Lobel, you’ll read about two toy companies that weren’t playing around. Years after it happened, Carter Bryant couldn’t tell you what spurred him to think the way he did that sunny afternoon.

Loss of estate tax won’t just affect wealthy

As Congress begins discussion on proposed changes to the tax code, there are often small points that take a while to attract the public’s attention. One of those is the proposed elimination of the federal estate tax. By current law, estates under $5.49 million are not subject to estate taxes. With a bit of planning, a married couple can have $10.98 million of an estate shielded from estate taxes. The current law pegs the taxable level to inflation, so the amount subject to tax will move with the economy.

Photo courtesy of Efficiency Vermont
Christa Alexander at Jericho Settlers Farm in Jericho.
EFFICIENCY VERMONT / COURTESY PHOTO

Farm grows year-round with efficiency help

Fifteen years ago, Christa Alexander and Mark Fasching started selling extra produce from their prolific vegetable garden. They invested in some chickens, then some livestock, some more land, and before they knew it were farming full-time. Fast forward to today. Jericho Settlers Farm is a thriving diversified, organic farm with a large number of wholesale clients as well as CSA, farmers market offerings and a farm stand. And now, by pairing onsite solar power and biomass heating with energy efficiency, the farm has managed to extend its growing season almost to year-round.

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‘Power UP’: Survival in a male-dominated economy

“Power UP: How Smart Women Win in the New Economy,” by Magdalena Yeşil, 2017, Seal Press, $27, 230 pages
One. For many years, that’s the number of women there were in your department at work. One (you), or maybe a few more, but not many. You survived it, for sure, but times have absolutely changed since then. And in the new book, “Power UP,” by Magdalena Yeşil, they’re still changing, even now.

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Cautionary but entertaining tales from ‘Rossen to the Rescue’

“Rossen to the Rescue” by Jeff Rossen, 2017, Flatiron Books, $24.99, 256 pages

You know your rights. You’re well aware of what you can and can’t do legally because you’ve armed yourself with knowledge. You have rights, and the new book “Rossen to the Rescue,” by Jeff Rossen, makes clear one of them is the right not to be scammed, schemed, or unsafe. So, let’s say you’re on a cross-country flight. The attendant just handed you something with ice.