Ladies, Stop Giving It Away

Ladies, Stop Giving It Away, by Nancy Roberts, is one of my “best kept secrets.” It is the third book I have read by Nancy and each one teaches lasting lessons about how to improve my business development skills. She is the coach that other coaches turn to for skill development. This book reinforces principles I have heard before, but it also presents the case why some traditional teachings for men do not work well for women. After reading why and applying it to my own experience, I am convinced she has it right. More importantly, she backs up her theory with two critical things:

  1. Empirical evidence and studies, and
  2. Techniques for implementation

This book is a compact portable course that can be immediately implemented to achieve measurable results in your business. An investment of two hours and $30 will take your business to the next level. It is inspiring and empowering, and jam-packed with great information. You’ll be ready to enroll in one or more other programs she offers, and enthusiastic to make the investment in you and your business.

Non-compete Agreements Need a Geographic Location

In a lawsuit between an employer and an employee, a non-compete agreement that restricted employees from “working for companies competitive with the employer” and “in locations where they employee marketed or sold products” was not reasonable in geographic scope nor was it defined well enough to be enforced. The court rendered it unenforceable leaving the employer without a remedy. This is one more reminder that non-compete agreements must be reasonable in both time and geographic scope. The guiding principle is the least restriction on the employee’s ability to obtain new job and reasonably necessary to protect the employer’s interest.

It may be a good idea to review your company documents with your attorney to be sure they will be enforceable when you need them.

Adoptees

Advocates are trying to get a bill written that would give adoptees access to their original birth certificates. The bill would also include provisions for:

·allowing biological parents to file update medical information in case the adopted child seeks it

·allowing biological parents to choose whether they want to be contacted or not, and if so, directly or through an intermediary agency

Similar laws were recently enacted in New Jersey and Connecticut. New York’s mutual consent registry is inadequate and rarely productive. Other proposals include allowing biological parents to (like Illinois’ new law) redact their name or requiring a judge to find good cause before access is granted.

There is a controversy over whether adoptive parents should expect lifelong anonymity. Some argue the closed records policy was to protect the child and the adoptive family, not the relinquishing biological parent. Many argue that the stigma and shame of years past is no longer a social issue that demands secrecy. Access to health information is a greater right in the balance between parent and child.

Bills have been proposed several times over the past two decades but none have been successful. With the growth of personalized medicine, access to medical record and genetic information can be increasingly important.

Failure to maintain your corporate books and records can render you personally liable

The equitable theory of veil piercing, intended to serve as a rectifying mechanism against certain fraud, dishonesty or wrongdoing, is of particular import in the case where the corporate entity has no assets to pay a judgment but the principals do have assets to pay the legal damages awarded by a court. This was recently used by Burberry is its effort to stop a counterfeiter and recover $2.5 million in damages.. Burberry Limited and Burberry USA v. RTC Fashion Inc., d/b/a Designers Imports t/a Fashion58.Com and Asher Horowitz (Index No. 110615/14) (N.Y. Sup. Ct. 2014).

Burberry, believing that an affiliate of the judgment debtor intended to frustrate Burberry’s efforts to collect the $2.5 million judgment against Designers Imports and to ensure that Horowitz maintained continuity in the marketplace, commenced an action in the New York State Supreme Court against both the affiliate RTC Fashion and principal Horowitz. In the state court action, Burberry sought to pierce Designers Imports’ corporate veil in order to hold Horowitz personally liable for the judgment entered in the federal action. Under New York state law, and it is well established in New York that piercing the corporate veil generally “requires a showing that the individual defendants (1) exercised complete dominion and control over the corporation, and (2) used such dominion and control to commit a fraud or wrong against the plaintiff which resulted in injury.” Courts in New York have considered the following factors in determining whether the two-part showing has been met and the corporate veil may be pierced: (i) failure to adhere to corporate formalities; (ii) inadequate capitalization; (iii) commingling of assets; and (iv) use of corporate funds for personal use.

The following facts were important to piercing the corporate veil (there were other facts considered by the court): The principal was the sole shareholder, officer and director of both companies; (2) the corporate entity had no by-laws, no stock transfer ledger, no minutes of its shareholders meetings, and no minutes of its board of directors meetings; (3) the principal’s only meetings were with his accountant on a yearly basis for the purpose of preparing his tax returns; (4) the principal comingled funds by paying personal expenses with company money for his personal use.

The take-away is that is important to properly keep corporate books and records. Don’t forget to do your annual meeting minutes and properly document other major corporate transactions. Failure to do so may result in personal liability and not receiving the protections of the corporate entity.

New Jersey school districts defending bullying case can possibly seek contribution from student accused of bullying and parents

In New Jersey, school districts defending a bullying case can seek contribution from the students accused of bullying and their parents.  That means the parents can be responsible for some or all of the damages and attorney fees. V.B. a Minor by his Parent and Guardian v. Flemington-Raritan Regional Board of Ed, et al., Docket No. HNT-L-95-13 (NJ Superior Court, Hunterdon County, March 12, 2014).  The case involved a long history of physical abuse and cyberbullying.

Parents should take note. New York courts may follow suit.

I Recommend Income 180 Conference

Earlier this month, I attended the Income 180 Live Event 2014, with Nancy Roberts and Chris Kenney.  I had two goals for this 2½ day conference: learn how I could do better in conveying the benefits I provide to people so I would have the opportunity to work with more business owners, and secondly, to learn some business building techniques I could convey to my clients to help improve their business and its bottom line.

My opinion: This experience is very affordable and well worth the time investment.  Here are a few highlights of my 3 days:

  1. I now have a better understanding of the psychology of the buying process and how it affects the way potential clients interact with me (and my clients).
  2. I have some techniques my clients and I can immediately use to improve client relationships.
  3.  I learned how to improve my initial consultation with a potential client to make it more customer-centric.
  4. I left energized and re-invigorated- something we all need to have (that fire inside us to do our best work).

The material was presented in an interactive and easy to understand manner.  That is crucial.  Since some of the lessons are taught by an experiential exercise, your understanding goes to a depth you never before felt when you are put in your customer’s shoes.  The lessons will never be forgotten and will forever impact how I see certain situations.

Who will benefit most?  I believe people in a service or consulting type business will have the most profound experience.  However, the experience will benefit any entrepreneur.  Nancy and Chris offer professional coaching in a more personalized basis and I have no doubt this is a sound investment.  Consider this coaching as your “MBA” in profitably operating your own business.  Instead of spending money one time for marketing or pay-per-click advertising, invest in you for a lifelong results and return on investment.  They convey real world, real time experience to teach you how to do it right.  The investment is substantial for private coaching but with real results you’ll earn the cost back in months, not years.  You’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.  myincome180.com

New York State Traffic Ticket Points

The holiday speed traps are starting.  If you are caught in the City of Rochester limits, you have almost no chance at a plea bargain.  The suburban courts are different.  You may get a reduction if you have a good record, but rarely can it be done without showing up in court.  The inconvenience yields lots of guilty pleas and fine revenues for the local court.  Ever received a ticket and wonder how many points you might get if you simply plead guilty and pay the fine?  Here is a list of the point values for common traffic infractions:

Points

Offense

 

11

Any violation involving speeding more than 40 miles per hour over the speed limit.

 

8

Any violation speeding more than 30 but not more than 40 miles per hour over the speed limit.

 

6

Any violation involving speeding more than 20 but not more than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit.

 

5

Reckless driving; any violation involving overtaking or passing a stopped school bus; and any violation involving the use of a mobile telephone or portable electronic device.

 

4

Any violation involving speeding more than 10 but not more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit; following too closely; and inadequate service brakes, except for such a violation committed by an employed driver during the course of his employment, which shall be 11 Points.

 

3

Any violation involving speed under 20 miles per hour over the speed limit; any violation constituting a failure to yield the right-of-way; any violation involving a railroad crossing, disobeying a traffic control signal or a stop or yield sign; any violation involving improper passing, changing lanes unsafely, driving to left of center of roadway; driving in the wrong direction; leaving the scene of a property damage incident or injury to an animal without reporting; and any violation involving use of safety belts or seats by a child under the age of 16.

 

0

Any violation relating to vehicle registration, licensing or insurance; any violation relating to motor vehicle inspection, vehicle weighs or dimensions or vehicle equipment other than inadequate service brakes; any violation, other than a violation for which suspension or revocation action is mandated upon conviction; any parking violation; any pedestrian or bicycle violation; any violation relating to a business or the sale of goods established in the Vehicle and Traffic Law or any local law; any violation not resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle; and any violation of Section 1110(a) of the Vehicle and Traffic Law relative to the improper use of high occupancy vehicle(HOV) lanes in Suffolk County between Exits 49 and 57 of the Long Island Expressway.

 

Succession Planning for Businesses and not for Profits

Pope Francis has taken over leadership of a powerful global organization. The Catholic Church has the advantage of a centuries old historical tradition for selecting the Pope’s successor. There is a readymade loyal staff of followers to help the new leader transition into the position, learn the demands, responsibilities and mechanics of his new role, and to provide support for the new leader to define and chart his own mission.

Does your business or not-for-profit have a succession plan? In times of crisis, having a procedure and path to move forward is critical to survival of the entity. The emotional demands are tolling; there must be a built in blueprint plan that can be followed in a mechanical way. In a real sense, people will be “going through the motions” while they process all that is happening and the impact it will have on them. Having a pre-established procedure to turn to will be a blessing; those making decisions will have a map to follow.

Some important questions to ask:

  1. Who will make interim decisions until a new leader is chosen or put in place?
  2. Is key information recorded and readily available for the new leadership to reference and use as the organization moves forward?
  3. Has the new leader been trained and groomed to take on the new leadership role? Does the successor know the organization’s core values and mission?
  4. Are the key people prepared to really accept, and support, the transition of leadership?
  5. Will the outgoing leadership be honored and respected for its accomplishments? Has their contribution been recognized and promoted?
  6. Is there a strategic plan to address challenges of the new leadership?

Studies reveal that more than half (55%) of CEOs who will retire before 2018 have not chosen their successor and almost half (47%) of family businesses have no plan to transition leadership if something happens to the company leader. Realistically, it can take years to train a leader. Many situations do not happen in a regular fashion. They need to be in a monitoring position for long enough to see how different situations are handled.

The result may be that a spouse who has not been actively involved in business operations is suddenly thrust into the role of primary decision-maker, a role s/he is ill prepared to take on, especially during the family and emotional crises brought on by death of a spouse and parent.

Why do family business leaders avoid creating a succession plan? Two reasons top the list: reluctance to let go and fear of the disapproval of those not selected as successor. The trait of a good leader is knowing when to leave. It is also being able to resist in the face of pressure and emotional overreaction of family members who are not selected as the successor.

When Mom or Dad Can No Longer Make Decisions

Where a family member is disabled or has diminished physical or mental capacity, guardianship proceedings may be an option. However, taking this step must be carefully considered because these court proceedings are often very difficult on the family. They can be expensive if they are contested or family members fight over who should be given control. (They can cost tens of thousands of dollars.)

If the person afflicted with diminished capacity is cooperative and willing, a durable power of attorney may be a good option to consider. The principal (sometimes called the allegedly incapacitated person or AIP) can sign a document giving authority to a trusted agent to act in financial and legal matters. (A health care proxy is necessary for medical decisions). A durable power of attorney generally costs $100-$1,000 and can be prepared and executed with your attorney. This option is available only where the principal has sufficient capacity to sign a legal document and understands the nature of what he or she is signing. If these circumstances exist, this is the most cost effective option for the family to consider.

Article 81 of the Mental Hygiene Law balances the right to autonomy and self-determination with the social responsibility to protect those who are not capable of caring for themselves. It is important to understand that guardianship is intended to provide support in the least intrusive manner possible. The more capable the person is, the less assistance they will require in handling legal and financial affairs. The court will limit the role of the guardian to what the person needs to prevent him/her from suffering harm. The law focuses on when the person is likely to suffer harm or cause harm to others. A person who makes decisions we don’t agree with – or that seem eccentric – is not necessarily incapable from a legal perspective.

We look at how the person copes with activities of daily living (“ADL’s”) like bathing, toileting, grooming, cooking, eating and banking. The court will evaluate whether there is clear and convincing evidence that the person cannot understand the consequences of his/her actions or physical and mental limitations. The court will also consider the person’s known preferences, wishes and values – trying to reserve the greatest amount of self-determination and independence. When substituting the judgment of others, we try to figure out what the person would have decided for themselves if they were not incapacitated.

If you find yourself facing these difficult circumstances, consulting with an attorney can help you understand these and other options that may be available. The best planning is that which is done in advance with powers of attorney executed well before there is a diminished capacity situation at hand. It is always best to decide for yourself who should make decisions on your behalf when the time comes rather than leave it to a court to make such decisions for you.

Tracy Jong assists CARES, a not-for-profit group benefitting those suffering from schizophrenia and their families, we understand the unique challenges families face in these circumstances. Call our office if we can help your family find answers to the best way to handle the legal and financial affairs of a schizophrenic family member.