Category Archives: Employment

Why young professionals plan to keep working on the railroad

Elizabeth Hutchison was living in Chicago employed in corporate communications in heavy manufacturing when she learned about an opportunity doing similar work for Union Pacific Railroad. It was a no-brainer for this Millennial to make the move to Omaha as a UP senior communications manager nearly six years ago, but not because she was a native Nebraskan.

“The appeal to me was the opportunity to work for Union Pacific,” she says. “Rail is such a critical industry.”

Elizabeth Hutchison
Elizabeth Hutchison

Hutchison also appreciates the security of working in a 150-year-old industry, as well as the diverse experience it offers.

“You can’t be siloed here,” she explains. “You work with people across the railroad. We’re in 23 states. The big machine that is the rail industry is fascinating.”

Career stability matters. Hutchison’s reasons for not only choosing but staying with a career in rail are echoed by many of her generation working for Class Is in non-agreement positions. Scott St. Clair, manager of strategic planning at Norfolk Southern Corp., came to the railroad five years ago right after graduating from college. He wasn’t recruited — he sought out NS.

“I was familiar with the company growing up. Rail is a strong industry, and it’s really safe,” he says. “The railroads felt the effects of the economic downturn, but it’s an industry people rely on.”

In other words, railroads aren’t going anywhere, and neither are Hutchison and St. Clair.

While Generation Xers grew up during a time when company hopping was the norm, Millennials watched their parents struggle through a recession, losing jobs, houses, savings. The result? Even among those working in information technology, the drive to find a solid employer with lots of opportunities for growth within a single company is strong.

of planning and strategy in CN’s IT department, signed on with the railroad in 2003 after serving the road for several years as a consultant.

“I was absolutely amazed by the amount of projects going on and the company’s drive to improve,” he says. “And every two years, I’ve had an opportunity for a new job.”

One reason: For the past several years, railroad hiring managers have been on the prowl for new talent. A decade ago, looming retirements, normal attrition and traffic growth at North American railroads prompted H.R. execs to convince management to put talent recruitment and retention at a premium.

“In 2005, 75 percent of our employees were baby boomers,” says Diana Sorfleet, vice president and chief human relations officer at CSX Transportation. “Now, we’re about a third Millennials, a third Gen Xers, and a third baby boomers.”

At the end of 2014, Class Is had 8,000 more employees than a year earlier, and railroads plan to hire another 15,000 this year, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). And contrary to popular belief, rail is competing well with other Fortune 500 industries when it comes to compensation and benefits, according to AAR. The average railroad employee’s annual salary is $109,000.

“Railroads have historically hired every 20 to 30 years, but we’re now focused on constantly refreshing our workforce to maintain a balance of age and tenure,” says Sorfleet, adding that CSX’s attrition rate the last 10 years has been around 10 percent.

Meanwhile, retention rates are strong. At NS, retention stands at about 90 percent for non-agreement employees who go through the company’s management trainee program, a comprehensive 12-month training that exposes new non-agreement employees to the whole of the railroad while also giving them an opportunity to grow a professional network, says NS Manager of College Recruiting Patrick Rickard.

“We set them up to succeed early in their careers,” he adds. “Colleges are aware of this. And we provide salary and promotions based on performance.”

 

 

Prosperity Gospel Is War on the Poor

’ve always been annoyed by Hollywood sports movies that spend nearly two hours earnestly preaching about how it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose the Big Game because what’s really important is the spiritual growth achieved through the challenge of competition. But then the movie predictably ends with the protagonist winning the Big Game anyway and being carried away on the shoulders of admiring teammates. The twisted lesson seems to be: Once you acknowledge that winning isn’t important, you will win. The fiscal corollary is: Once you acknowledge that money isn’t important, you will become fabulously wealthy. And more important than the winning or wealth is that witnesses are there to admire your achievement, to hoist you up on metaphoric shoulders of envy.

It’s crazy logic that stomps spirituality into pulp like a mugger pummeling a victim in a back alley. Like something Cersei Lannister would propose on Game of Thrones. Yet, that is the line—that God wants believers to be wealthy and that giving donations could improve your wealth—that some proponents of the so-called prosperity gospel have been selling. And like the snake-oil salesmen from whom they are descended, their product has a greasy stench to it that cures nothing but the salesman’s own greed.

Which brings us to Pastor Creflo Dollar’s earthly reward last week. In March, his plea to his congregation for them each to donate $300 or more so he could purchase a $65 million Gulfstream G650, the jet of choice for discerning billionaires flying the heavens like self-anointed angels, seemed to have been abandoned after public outcry. But now that the outraged voices have died down, the board of World Changers Church International, which oversees Creflo Dollar Ministries, has said it will buy this “Holy Grail” of aviation. The campaign to purchase the jet, the board said, is “standard operating procedure for people of faith” in “our community.”

And that’s the problem. Who are these “people of faith”? According to a survey for Time magazine, those who embrace the prosperity gospel tend to be African Americans, evangelicals, and those less educated. Though the specific theology from church to church can differ, the general claim is that the more money you give to the church, the more God will financially reward you. But this column isn’t about Creflo Dollar and the other multi-millionaires who have cynically perverted Christ’s teachings to fill their silk-lined pockets. It’s about how the country shifted from the War on Poverty in the 1960s to the War on the Poor today.

The prosperity gospel is just another battle front in that war. We could just shrug at the hundreds of thousands who willfully give up their money so their pastors can live in the kind of opulence that rivals that of the Roman Caesars. We could dismiss these worshipful congregants as victims of their own greed. But that would be misreading the situation. While greed may motivate the mansion-dwelling pastors, the congregants are motivated by hope of a better life. This is the same desperate, though misguided, hope that droves Americans to throw away $70.15 billion on lottery tickets in 2014, more than what was spent on sports tickets, books, video games, movie tickets, and music combined. Who buys those tickets? According to a 2011 study, “Gambling on the Lottery: Sociodemographic Correlates Across the Lifespan,” the highest rate of lottery gambling (61%) came from those in the lowest fifth of socioeconomic status, concluding that “males, blacks, Native Americans, and those who live in disadvantaged neighborhoods” were more likely to play.

In essence, many of the “people of faith” are the poor who are more willing to place their faith in the lottery and prosperity gospel than in the tarnished legend of the American Dream. The recent economic recession has delivered a gut-punch to that American Dream of working hard and pulling oneself up by the bootstraps until the inevitable riches follow. Sure, it still can happen, just not as often as it used to. Now burdened with enormous college debt, fewer prospects for well-paying jobs, rising housing costs and increased cost-of-living, more of the what used to be middle class are slipping over the edges of the financial cliff and falling on hard times. According to the CBS news article “America’s Incredible Shrinking Middle Class,” the size of the middle class has decreased in all 50 states. Where have they gone? To the poor side of town. More than 45 million (14.5%) Americans lived in poverty in 2013, up from 12.3% in 2006.

Without faith in the government to help lift the poor out of poverty or prevent the middle class from slipping away, desperate and frightened people seek help in the supernatural of religion or in the supernatural odds of the lottery (odds of winning on a single ticket are 1 in 175 million). It’s hard not to be sympathetic.

Americans have always had difficulty reconciling the lofty pursuit of spiritual enlightenment with the worldly hunger for material prosperity, especially if the former rejects the latter. We want to win, even if winning means we lose something even more valuable not tangible because our fame-mongering, social-media driven culture tells us we haven’t won unless everyone else acknowledges it. (If someone does a good deed in the forest and no one’s around, is it still a good deed? Not anymore.) But how does one keep score in the spirituality game? According to the purveyors of prosperity gospel, your friends and neighbors will know how righteous you are by the size of your bank account and the make of your car.

In Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, he says, “And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also” (Matthew 5:40). The coat was considered to be a shirt while the cloak was a crucial garment to protect against the elements. Combined with Jesus’ admonishment to turn the other cheek when struck, we see a teaching that is establishing the basis for Christianity: Tend to what is permanent (the soul) over what is temporary (material goods). To expect an earthly reward other than purity of mind would go against these teachings. Yet those pimping the prosperity gospel are preaching the opposite.

I’m in awe of most religious leaders because they dedicate their lives to helping others achieve spiritual fulfillment. I’m also in awe of most practitioners of religions because their goal is to do the right thing for their god and their community. And there’s nothing wrong with wanting to be successful and wealthy. But there is something wrong when some people exploit the poor, the fearful, and the desperate to enrich themselves through donations and tax-exemptions by pretending to be spiritual leaders. Like the professional pardoners of the Middle Ages who pedaled indulgences to the highest bidders, they pervert teachings for profit. These are the people that the word shame was invented to describe.

Opting-out of mass transit = modern redlining

Panethos

Currently, more than 50 communities in Southeast Michigan opt-out of participating in SMART (the regional transit system). Just yesterday, in a narrow 3-2 vote, Bloomfield Hills voted to continue opting out. Most often, the rationale for not participating is due to the cost and that residents want no more taxes, but underneath one has to wonder if that is simply a ruse to hide the real and more troublesome reason(s).

To this author, opting-out of mass transit not only serves to exclude the less fortunate from fully participating in the regional economy, but dissuades them from coming to the opt-out community in the first place. If there are no practical and affordable methods of getting there for work, shopping, or residing, then the less fortunate have been effectively redlined from the community by default and/or inaction.

The only real solution to this is form of social inequity is for…

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How 3 Guys Made a Career Playing Video Games

Anybody have a grown-up son who spends the day and night playing video games? I think a lot of us do. Ever wonder if they could at least make a living from gaming? As gaming continues to grow as a spectator sport, these three friends from Florida make a living without leaving their couch.

From nine to five, seven days a week, Robert Schill plays video games while sitting on a plush, brown sofa in central Florida.

Hundreds, sometimes thousands, of people watch. His web channel has more than 35 million hits in one year.

And Schill gets paid for it.

He’s a shift worker, a laborer in a brave and strange new economy that rewards a Big Brother-like existence combined with entrepreneurial pluck.

Schill’s not alone in this venture, not even in his own home. When the 26-year-old ginger-haired Schill finishes his shift, he unplugs his game controller and his roommate, 29-year-old Adam Young, sinks into the sofa and plays until 1 a.m. Then a third roommate, Brett Borden, 26, clocks in for his eight-hour shift.

They are the stars of StreamerHouse. They broadcast via Twitch.tv, an online network that attracts tens of millions of visitors, most of whom watch footage of other people playing video games.

StreamerHouse is set in a 1920s-era Mediterranean-revival home graced with 20 cameras, at least 15 computer screens and two bulldogs (Mister Pig and Baby Pig). It’s part reality TV, part talk radio and part performance art. The trio play games, chat with fans and narrate their daily lives into an expensive microphone setup.

They make money from a cut of Twitch advertising, subscriptions, video game sales and from fan donations.

In October, one admirer from the Middle East gave StreamerHouse $6,000.

StreamerHouse capitalizes on a cultural moment that demands engagement and intimacy with everyone from celebrities tweeting pictures of their newborns to friends and family posting Facebook photos of breakfast.

The StreamerHouse guys deliver with an intimate, non-stop show where they interact with fans in real time.

There’s something genius about this.

“I live on the Internet, man,” joked Schill, known as “The Real Deal,” and “Rober” online. His fans recently sent him a guitar and a memory foam mattress. Fans routinely send pizzas, candy and t-shirts. All three “streamers” admit their career prospects would be bleak outside the house. None have college degrees and all have been gaming since they were boys.

Twitch has more than 8,500 similar streamers in its affiliate program–which means the game players receive ad revenue. All streamers can solicit donations–although StreamerHouse’s 24/7 broadcast is unique.

There’s an appetite to watch gamers. YouTube’s most subscribed channel belongs to Felix Arvid Ulf Kjellberg, a Swede known online as PewDiePie. He is a video game commentator, much like the StreamerHouse guys, and has over 32 million subscribers.

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Since GE is following the trend in Healthcare now, will they follow it in Pensions in the immediate future?

In our organization, our Ancien Hippie is actually a General Electric Pensioner, but he wanted me to write the article so it would be unbiased (besides he wanted to cover the Comets game.) His only comment (I could publish) was “hope it is not a disaster like the 401K.

This article describes the trend in Pensions. It is interesting to note that Towers Watson is mentioned since they have provided the counsel on healthcare and are managing the GE program via their subsidiary, OneExchange
AARP THE MAGAZINE
The Great Pension Sell-Off

Should you take a lump sum or an insurer’s annuity? by Eileen Ambrose, AARP The Magazine, June/July 2014

Carl Monheit’s former employer reliably mailed his monthly pension check to him for 17 years. A year and a half ago things changed. The Hackensack, New Jersey, resident, along with thousands of other retired managers, learned he would no longer be part of Verizon’s pension plan. Instead, the telecommunications giant bought them an annuity. While payments would stay the same, future checks would now come from an insurance company.

“It was kind of a shock,” says Monheit, 67, who retired after 30 years from a company that became what is now Verizon. “Why are they changing things that worked for so many and worked well, and provided so much comfort and security to people who built their business?”
It’s a question more retirees and older workers likely will be asking as U.S. companies move to get expensive pension obligations off their books. Companies call this new approach “de-risking.” Some firms purchase annuities for their pensioners, while others offer cash to buy them out. And some — most notably General Motors in 2012 — try a combination: first offering a lump sum and then buying an annuity for those who don’t take the money.

A report by benefits consultant Towers Watson last year found that 58 percent of companies surveyed had offered lump sums to former employees or plan to do so, while 38 percent expect to transfer pension obligations to an outside company within the next five years.

Story by Founder and CEO Rothschild Strategies Unlimited, LLC

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Job Seeker: How Much Abuse Will You Take?

I’m not a job seeker. I love writing and consulting. Been there and done it with the hiring process. Which means I know a lot about the hiring process too. Was hired to select a location for a New York office for a start up “social website”, as well as discover what else would be required to staff it and open it. That, to me, meant concise hiring requirements (for others to execute).
The office part was easy. I like “art deco” buildings, so I found one. I had a huge concern that a stupid employee application form or a flawed hiring process would give the company a “black eye” all over the “Web”. First decision was easy: only two individuals from the company will be involved; the hiring manager and the hiring manager’s manager.

nferencing all over the World already. A simple policy guide for man

Found a great article on LinkedIn by Liz Ryan that surfaced a lot of things not to do and to watch out for.

For years we had been hearing about slooooow interview processes. We had been hearing about endless delays and interruptions in what should be a straightforward hiring exercise”. While a lot of the technical positions are outsourced, many Supply Chain Management positions are not. Most of the positions we will be hiring for are already defined such as an EDI analyst or a supply chain planner. There is little to no room to question or change these job specifications. There should be no obstacles like additional forms to fill out …. that should have been covered on the single employee application (if that is designed correctly). 

My policy: a “no excuses” three day time limit from first interview to hiring decision. Company has video coagers will set the hiring process in concrete and caution about delays, changing the process at the last minute and other “tactics”.

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SCM Personnel: Hardest Jobs To Fill

Our recent article on Opportunities in Your Supply Chain listed “Developing Supply Chain Talent” as a major opportunity. An article by Laura Cecere included a very interesting research study on “Ease or Difficulty of Filling Supply Chain Positions”. Outside of the managerial ranks (always hardest anyway), the most difficult are: Demand Planner; Network Planning Analyst; Supply Planner. Yes, it represents “traditional SCM” (EDI and Control Towers are not in the study).
A very meaningful quote from Laura tells how critical staffing is to the supply chain: “differences between a leader and laggard boil down to five things: supply chain leadership, talent management, active design of the supply chain, strong horizontal processes, and being good at supply chain planning.”

She has also published an in-depth look at staffing: “Supply Chain Talent – A Broken Link in the Supply Chain”. Here she states that from a recent study that only one in three companies today thinks that they are managing supply chain talent effectively.

Laura points out that supply planning is at the heart of the problem. Yes, there is a shortage of mid-management supply chain talent and the toughest to fill are supply chain planners. These folks need a good understanding of the business (sounds like EDI). Loss of a great planner can hurt.

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Why We Cannot Just Deport Justin Bieber?

A friend who is a “budding entrepreneur” asked me how he could go to the United States. He mentioned a special class for noted entertainers, sports personalities and significant businessmen. Told him is was called an “0-1 visa”. He asked if he would qualify if his corporation had a value of $1 billion. Told him I would find out more. Went to search and everything was about Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber’s highly publicized arrest for DUI and other infractions has led some to compare the Canadian entertainer’s handling by U.S. law enforcement to that of undocumented immigrations.

In particular, the New York Times’ Andrew Rosenthal has suggested that if Bieber were “poor, obscure and, say, Hispanic” he might be swiftly deported.

The difference, of course, is in the documents.

Bieber resides in the U.S. on an O-1 visa, which is reserved for “individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry.”

According to federal law, only violent crimes and sentences longer than 1 year result in a re-evaluation of visa status.

There is an ongoing petition to have Justin Bieber deported out of the United States and back to his hometown in Canada for all the crimes he have committed while in the country. Other normal immigrants have been deported for less, so many are now criticizing the court for giving Justin Bieber a special treatment. Even though Justin Bieber is no ordinary boy, he should certainly not be above the law either, at least that is what the 270,000 people who signed the petition think.

According to CNN, Canadian Justin Bieber has raised a lot of serious criticisms against the immigration law enforcement in the United States. Why is the young singer not being deported when ordinary immigrants have been deported for crimes less serious as faced by Justin Bieber?

According to the news magazine, President Barack Obama had sent a lot of immigrants back to their home countries, thus earning the president the label of “deporter-in-chief.” However, many are claiming he has a soft spot for the Canadian “Beauty and the Beat” singer and cannot exercise his power properly. A bit unfair of an assertion, but not necessarily implausible either.

Frequently Asked Questions of O Visa (Alien of Extraordinary Ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business and Athletics)

  What is the purpose of O visa?

O-1 visa benefits aliens of extraordinary ability in the science, arts, education, business or athletics. The O-2 visa is for certain persons accompanying O-1 artists and athletes. The O-3 visa is for dependents of O-1’s and O-2’s.

  What is the standard of review of O1 visa?

Aliens of different specialties are imposed different standards of review. The standard for determining “extraordinariness“ is highest for business persons, scientists and educators, and lower for the arts. For persons whose expertise is in science, education, and business, extraordinary ability is shown by sustained national or international acclaim and the aliens must have risen to the top of the field. This standard is similar to that the EB1-A immigrant visa. To qualify as an O-1 alien of extraordinary ability in the arts, the immigration rules require “distinction.“ “Distinction“ means a high level of achievement in the field of arts as evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that a person is described as prominent, leading, or well-known in the field of arts. Those seeking a visa to work in the television or motion picture industry have a different standard. They need to demonstrate record of extraordinary achievement. All O-1 seekers must be entering the United States to work in the field in which he has received that acclaim.

  Who qualifies as an alien of extraordinary ability as scientist, educators, business persons and athletes?

Those foreign nationals must have sustained national or international acclaim and their achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation. In addition, the foreign person is seeking to enter the United States to continue to work in the field of endeavor that is the subject of the acclaim.

  What does “extraordinary ability“ mean?

The phrase “extraordinary ability“ means a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who has risen to the very top of the field of endeavor.

  How should an application establish that the foreign national has sustained national or international acclaim in business, science and education?

National or international acclaims can be demonstrated by receipt of a major internationally recognized award such as Nobel Prize or the Academy Award. Alternatively, the foreign person must provide at least three of the following types of evidence:

  1. Receipt of nationally/internationally recognized prizes/awards for excellence in the field;
  2. Membership in associations in the field that require outstanding achievement of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts;
  3. Published material in professional or major trade publications or major media about the alien;
  4. Participation on a panel or as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field of specialization;
  5. Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance;
  6. Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media;
  7. Current or previous employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation; or,
  8. Past or proffered high salary or other remuneration for services, evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.
  9. Commercial success in the performing arts as shown by box office receipts or sales records, cassette, compact disk, or video sales.

  May the O-1 visa holder have dual intent?

Yes, there is no foreign residence requirement for O-1 beneficiaries. The approval of a permanent labor certification or the filing of an immigrant preference petition is not a basis for denying O status. A foreign national may legitimately come to the United States for a temporary period as an O-1 nonimmigrant, and, at the same time, lawfully seek to become a permanent resident.

  How should an O-1 application establish a foreign national’s distinction in the arts?

To establish the foreign national’s distinction, USCIS rules provide that the foreign national must have been nominated for or have been the recipient of significant national or international awards or prizes in the particular field such as an Academy Award, an Emmy, a Grammy, or a Director’s Guild Award.

Alternatively, at least three of the following forms of documentation must be presented that establish that the foreign national:

  1. has or will perform a lead or starring role in productions or events that have a distinguished reputation;
  2. has achieved national or international recognition for achievements;
  3. has performed a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
  4. has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes;
  5. has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts in the field in which the alien is engaged;
  6. has commanded or now commands a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field; or
  7. other comparable evidence.

  How should an O-1 application establish a foreign national’s accomplishments in motion picture or television industry?

To qualify as a person of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry, it must be shown that the foreign national has a very high level of accomplishment in the motion picture or television industry evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person is recognized as outstanding, notable, or leading in the motion picture or television field. The types of documentation that may be submitted to establish that the foreign national is a person of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry are the same as the evidence required to establish that a foreign national is a person of extraordinary ability in the arts.

  Who qualifies for O-2 visa?

The O-2 category is set aside for foreign nationals who will accompany and assist in the artistic or athletic performance of an O-1 foreign national. Such foreign nationals must be an integral part of the actual performance and have critical skills and experience with the principal alien that are not of a general nature and that cannot be performed by other individuals. An O-2 visa is granted to those seek entry to the United States for the sole purpose of assisting O-1 aliens working in the arts, motion pictures, television or athletics. Aliens granted entry with an O-2 visa may not work apart from the O-1 alien to whose name their petition is joined.

  What evidence should an O-2 application submit?

To qualify for O-2 status, the USCIS requires the foreign national to submit evidence that establishes the current essentiality, critical skills, and experience of the O-2 foreign national with the O-1 foreign national, and that the foreign national has substantial experience performing the critical skills and essential support services for the O-1 foreign national. For accompanying O-1 aliens on a movie or television production, they must have a pre-existing and longstanding working relationship with the principal foreign national or must be needed because of continuity caused by filming both inside and outside the United States.

  Can an O-2 alien have dual intent?

No, O-2 aliens must have a foreign residence that they have no intention of abandoning; this requirement is not imposed on O-1 aliens.

  Who can file the O petition?

Class O aliens cannot petition on their own behalf. Only a United States employer or agent may file a petition, and petitions must be filed with the USCIS Service Center in the jurisdiction where the O-1 alien intends to work. A foreign national intending to work for multiple employers must have petitions filed on her behalf by each employer in their respective jurisdiction unless the petition is filed by “an established agent.“ Agents are those persons authorized by foreign employers to file an I-129 petition and to accept service of process.

  What documentation should the O petition file?

An O supplement must be filed with an I-129 petition requesting O status. A petition may not be filed more than six months prior to the need for the foreign national’s services. The petition must include copies of any written contracts between the petitioner and the beneficiary or, if there is no written contract, a summary of the terms of the oral agreement under which the alien will be employed, an explanation of the nature of the events or activities, the time period requested for the visa, and a copy of the itinerary of events at which the beneficiary will perform. An O-1 petition may include only one individual, while an O-2 petition may include multiple beneficiaries which must be listed on a supplemental form. The U.S. State Department bars the substitution of O-2 personnel. Material changes to a beneficiary’s terms and conditions of employ or eligibility must be filed in an amended petition with the USCIS Service Center in the jurisdiction where the original petition was filed.

  How long can an O visa holder stay in the U.S.?

The period of stay for the O nonimmigrant is tied to the time necessary to provide for the event or activity for which the nonimmigrant is admitted, up to a three-year period. O-1 visa status may be renewed in one year increments, or until the project is finished.

  Can my family join me if I obtain an O-1 visa?

Yes. Spouses and children of an O-1 visa holder are eligible for admission to the United States in O-3 status. Dependents need to show proof of the family relationship. Dependents may not engage in employment, but may attend school or college.

  What is the attorney fee of an O petition?

Please see the following legal fee chart of North America Immigration Law Group.

  What does the legal fee cover?

We will provide everything necessary to file your O petition, including:

  1. Contacting and discussing with your (potential) employer to facilitate their sponsorship for your petition.
  2. After securing sponsorship, we will discuss with you about good candidates to write you recommendation letters.
  3. Drafting recommendation letters for your recommenders to revise and sign based on information you provide.
  4. Drafting job offer letter detailing the position, the project, and your qualifications for your employer to review and sign.
  5. Helping you to obtain the affidavit or advisory opinion with an appropriate peer group or independent consulting organization regarding the nature of the work to be done by you and your qualifications.
  6. Providing a list of supporting documentation you should prepare with the petition;
  7. Organizing all the required documentation for your O-1 petition according to the USCIS regulations.
  8. Drafting the petition letter and revising it to your satisfaction.
  9. Submitting the completed petition materials to the proper USCIS Center.
  10. Contacting the USCIS for the status inquiry of your pending case. AND
  11. Responding to RFE and appeal in the case of denial.

  What is the filing fee of O visa?

The filing fee is $325.

  Can an O status granted to freelance in an open market?

NO, an alien in O classification may only be admitted to perform services in specific, identified events. O status may not be granted to an alien to enter the United States to freelance in the open market. Examples of an event include a scientific project, a conference, a convention, a lecture series, a tour, an exhibit, a business project, an academic year, or an engagement.

  Can an alien do work other than the identified event?

No. An alien admitted in O-1 status may work only in connection with such identified events and an amended petition must be filed to add events not specified in the petition. An exception to this rule relates to an artist or entertainer who will undertake additional performances or engagements that require an alien of O-1 caliber; in such cases, an amended petition is not required.

  What is an advisory opinion?

The evidence of advisory opinion must be accompanied with the petition. The employer needs to consult with an appropriate peer group, labor organization, or management organization in the area of the alien’s ability. In most instances, evidence of consultation takes the form of a written advisory opinion obtained from the appropriate consulting entity with expertise in the specific field involved. An advisory opinion is not required if the petitioner establishes that an appropriate consulting entity does not exist. In addition, if the petitioner is requesting expeditious handling of the O petition, an advisory opinion from an appropriate consulting entity need not be submitted with the petition. Expeditious handling may be granted with regard to O-1 petitions on behalf of an alien who will be employed in the fields of art, entertainment, or athletics.

Let’s Support the Adirondack Scenic Railroad

We have been watching both the successful Adirondack Scenic Railroad and the campaign to do away with it and make a trail out of it instead.

Below is a great editorial on the subject.

Plans to retain the rail line between Remsen and Tupper Lake certainly is good news for the Adirondack Scenic Railroad and the state tourism industry. The line has enormous potential and developers can now move ahead with plans to extend train trips with more confidence.

Just as important, this also is good news for people who might otherwise never get a peek at the vast wilderness known as the Adirondack Park.

The announcement to keep the track intact instead of tearing it up for a recreational trail, as has been debated, came last week from the state Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Conservation.

Meanwhile, the state will continue to evaluate and determine the best use of the track from Tupper Lake and Lake Placid. Options include rail only, trail only or both, rail and trail.

Do we really need a bunch of bureaucrats to study this? This is a no-brainer. Ending the rail line at Tupper Lake would be foolish.

All due respect to the good people of that community, but travelers — many will come from the New York City metro area on Amtrak and pick up the Adirondack Scenic Railroad in Utica — want the final destination to be Lake Placid. It would only seem logical to keep that line in place. Certainly business owners in Lake Placid and Saranac Lake would see the sense of that.

It would not be a bad thing to consider a recreational trail, too, on the upper end. In fact, one might envision tourist packages now where outdoor enthusiasts could take the train to Lake Placid, then spend a day or two hiking or biking back to Saranac or Tupper lakes, where they could re-connect with the railroad and head home. And snowmobilers could make use of the same connection in winter in addition to the thousands of miles of back country and groomed trails that already exist in the Adirondacks.

The potential here is enormous, and we’ve already wasted an inordinate amount of time studying it. Keep the rail line open to Lake Placid, create a trackside recreational trail between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid, and start promoting what can be one of the finest recreational opportunities in the country.

Self Help For You “Office-Weary Warriors” Out There

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Struggling with e-mail? Overwhelmed with too many meetings? Late with reports?

We have combed the Internet and found some tools and ideas to help you.

Some of these blogs are eye-openers, like the one about keeping your email box at zero. Plenty of well-worn time-management advice tells us how we should plan our day. Do the most important thing first. Never check email in the morning. Make a to-do list the night before. Don’t schedule meetings right after lunch when everyone will be half-asleep.

Note: sometimes these ideas conflict, so use your own judgement and experiment until you find things that work.

ORGANIZE YOUR DAZE (OOPS, I MEAN DAYS)

But what if we organized tasks by when research shows it’s actually most optimal to get them done? That’s a question we started asking after coming across a recent study that shows the ideal time of day to make moral or ethical decisions is in the morning. And so, we pored over additional research (some academic, some perhaps less so) on tasks and timing. Below, a research-based weekday planner for what to do — and, perhaps more important, what not to do — at various hours of the day.

6 – 8 a.m. Send email. Many books may have been written advising us never to check email in the mornings. Time management experts say not to get mired in our inboxes first thing, or we won’t get the critical things done. But of course, people do anyway, grabbing their phone off their bedside table, tapping away responses on their morning train, or giving themselves a breather once they sit down at their desks and drink their coffee.

Which is why sending email first thing might actually be the best time to do it. Research by a marketing software company shows that the highest click-through rate from marketing emails is on those sent around 6 a.m. or potentially a bit later.

8 a.m. Make decisions about ethical dilemmas. While the time here is somewhat arbitrary, recent research from professors at Harvard University and the University of Utah found what they called the “morning morality effect” in four experiments of undergraduates and working adults. In computer-based tests, participants were given the opportunity to cheat or lie in order to earn more money — and the experiments found that people were more likely to do both in the afternoon.

9 a.m. Avoid scheduling meetings. The hardest part about scheduling meetings isn’t really finding the time when everyone involved will be bright-eyed rather than half-asleep. It’s finding a time when everyone can actually attend. Keith Harris, chief technology officer of WhenIsGood.net, a bare-bones Web app for picking meeting times without sending a flurry of emails back and forth, dug into his software’s data and examined 2 million responses to some 530,000 scheduled events. He found that first thing in the workday is when the fewest people say they’re available. “Any time before ten, forget it,” Harris wrote in an e-mail. “Your co-workers are still deep in their coffee and inbox.”

1 – 2 p.m. Don’t make cold calls (especially on Friday). One might think lunchtime would be a good opening for a new business lead, when you catch someone at their desk eating a sandwich and checking Facebook or ESPN.com. But research by James Oldroyd, a business school professor in Korea whom CBS Marketwatch called “the mad scientist of cold calling,” finds that the worst time of day to make an unsolicited call is between 1 and 2 p.m. Far better is late afternoon (between 4 and 5 p.m.) or first thing in the morning (8 to 9 a.m.). That morning hour had 164 percent better results than the lunch hour in Oldroyd’s analysis of more than a million cold calls. His findings also reportedly show that Thursday is the best day of the week, while Friday is the worst.

2:30 or 3 p.m. Schedule meetings (if it’s Tuesday!). In addition to helping us find the worst time of day to try to get people around a table, WhenIsGood.net’s Harris also scanned the data to find the best. The winner: Tuesday, at 2:30 p.m., is the day and time of the week when most people accept meeting requests. Harris ran the search for us earlier this week, and it confirmed similar results to when he first ran the numbers for a white paper five years ago and Tuesday at 3 p.m was the best. He speculates Tuesday afternoon stands out “because that is the furthest you can get from the deadlines at the end of the week, without bumping into the missed deadlines from the week before.”

4 p.m. Do tasks that don’t involve sending e-mail. If early morning is the best time to get people to act on an e-mail, late afternoon is the worst. Analysis of millions of messages shows that 4 p.m. has the lowest click-through rate of any time of day, as people hurry to get out of the office and check things off before heading out the door.

4 – 6 p.m. Avoid sitting for an interview. If you catch wind the hiring manager has scheduled to interview several candidates over a single day or two — try not to be the last of the pack. Try and ask for a morning appointment if you can.

6 p.m. – late Do creative work, if you’re a morning person. If it sounds counterintuitive, it is. Yet research actually shows that people do their best creative thinking when they’re tired.

They found that those who identified as feeling fresh and sharp in the morning did better solving problems late at night that required original thinking. For night owls, it was the inverse. Morning proved a better time for them to have bright ideas. Their explanation: Creative thinking requires us to approach problems from a different perspective, which is actually harder to do when we’re clear-headed and can only see the obvious answer. If we need to concentrate, it’s good for our brains to be “on.” But if we need to think differently, it’s easier when our brains are a little distracted

INBOX ZERO

Urban Dictionary defines as: When you have no messages in your email inbox. Such a goal is often elusive, because the more email you clear out and reply to, the more new messages come in. I reached my goal of inbox zero by Friday afternoon, but Monday morning I had 42 new messages.

TechTarget defines as: Inbox Zero is a rigorous approach to email management aimed at keeping the inbox empty — or almost empty — at all times.

Inbox Zero was developed by productivity expert Merlin Mann. According to Mann, the zero is not a reference to the number of messages in an inbox; it is “the amount of time an employee’s brain is in his inbox.” Mann’s point is that time and attention are finite and when an inbox is confused with a “to do” list, productivity suffers.

Mann identifies five possible actions to take for each message: delete, delegate, respond, defer and do.

Here are some of Mann’s tips for effective email management:

  • Don’t leave the email client open.

  • Process email periodically throughout the day, perhaps at the top of each hour.

  • First delete or archive as many new messages as possible.

  • Then forward what can be best answered by someone else.

  • Immediately respond to any new messages that can be answered in two minutes or less.

  • Move new messages that require more than two minutes to answer — and messages that can be answered later — to a separate “requires response” folder.

  • Set aside time each day to respond to email in the “requires response” folder or chip away at mail in this folder throughout the day.

Time-Management Tips For Busy Entrepreneurs From Financenk

  1. Visualization techniques can be very powerful instruments for achieving goals in business. Next time you hit a rough patch of uncertainty, consider spending some time visualization how you will behave in order to get through it. This will not only relax you, but it will also prepare you for the road ahead.

  2. If you want to be successful, time management is vital. Not only must you keep track of all of your appointments, meetings, and project deadlines, but you also must manage your time when it comes to accomplishing tasks. If you allocate too much time to a project, that’s time that you cannot use for a different project.

  3. Having a clean, organized workspace is a vital part of success. It may sound trivial, but in fact, the cleanliness and the order can go a long way towards improving your mindset and structuring your day.

  4. Similar to keeping your office space clean and organized, keeping your schedule clean and organized is important, too. It helps to keep your mind clear of unnecessary clutter and worries; and instead focus on moment.

  5. When it comes to business, staying in control means a lot. It means that you not only prevent other businesses from dictating an agenda for you, but it also means that you firmly seize control of your own density. If you want to be successful, then you must be willing to take control.