Category Archives: Entrepreneur

Update your FMLA policies – Court Decisions

Employees can choose when not to use FMLA

In Escriba v. Poultry Farms the court rules “there are circumstances in which an employee might seek time off but intend not to exercise his or her rights under the FMLA.”

This is clearly counter to what previous guidance has always provided- designate an absence as FMLA leave any time an absence is taken for an FMLA-qualifying reason. This latest development could conceivably allow employees to double-dip by allowing them to take paid leave and then FMLA leave, instead of running the clock on both at the same time, as is standard procedure today.

LEAVE your employees alone when absent or on leave:

in Vess vs Select Medical, the employer was in constant communication with their on-leave employee, even having them do work.   This included phone calls from supervisors, scheduling, , inputting data and even doing training.  The court rules in the employees favor and provides a narrow scope of what can be required of employees on leave:

  • pass along institutional knowledge to new staff
  • provide computer passwords
  • seek closure on completed assignments, and
  • identify other employees to fill voids

Outside of these areas, leave your employee alone – when on sick or FMLA leave.

How FMLA and ADA overlap

in Attiobge-Tay v. Southeast Rolling Hills LLC. the court ruled that an employer was justified in terminating an employee who returned from FMLA unable to do their job physically.  The employee requested additional leave, and was denied.  Lifting was an essential part of the employees job.

No Brown M&M’s: What Van Halen’s Insane Contract Clause Teaches Entrepreneurs

At first glance it appears to be a crowning symbol of obnoxious rock star excess, yet a closer look reveals a deeper story about how a band used a tiny candy to alert them to major problems.

The 1970s saw the rise of Van Halen. Like every band, when Van Halen was hired to play a show, they provided the promoter with a contract “rider” that outlined specific things the promoter would be responsible for. Standard riders include sound and lighting requirements, instructions for the set up of the backstage area, security needs and nutritional requests for the band and crew. These details can be as critical as the precise weight of the speakers or as trivial as the specific brand of toilet paper that the band demands in their backstage washroom. It’s all in the rider.

Buried amongst dozens of points in Van Halen’s rider was an odd stipulation that there were to be no brown M&M’s candies in the backstage area. If any brown M&M’s were found backstage, the band could cancel the entire concert at the full expense of the promoter. That meant that because of a single candy, a promoter could lose millions.

For decades this stood as a humiliating act of self-indulgence, a rock band forcing someone to search through candy, removing every last brown one, for no apparent reason. Yet when lead singer David Lee Roth finally divulged the real reason for the bizarre clause, an entirely different picture was painted, one that serves as a valuable lesson for business.

In now-departed arenas such as Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, the original Boston Garden and Chicago Stadium, Van Halen was loading in massive amounts of staging, sound equipment and lighting. Unfortunately, these buildings were never built to accommodate a rock band of Van Halen’s scope. Without specific guidelines, old floors could buckle and collapse, beams could rupture, and the lives of the band, their crew and fans could be at serious risk.

To ensure the promoter had read every single word in the contract, the band created the “no brown M&M’s” clause. It was a canary in a coalmine to indicate that the promoter may have not paid attention to other more important parts of the rider, and that there could be other bigger problems at hand.

Related: Why Written Agreements Are Critical for Doing Business

Whenever the band found brown M&M’s candies backstage, they immediately did a complete line check, inspecting every aspect of the sound, lighting and stage setup to make sure it was perfect. David Lee Roth would also trash the band’s dressing room to prove a point — reinforcing his reputation in the process.

Van Halen created a seemingly silly clause to make sure that every little detail was taken care of. It was important, both for the experience of the fans and the safety of the band, to make sure that no little problems created bigger issues.

In your career growth and personal brand development, little details matter. Your vanity email address that was funny when you created it in college? It can torpedo any chance of you getting a job interview. Get a professional looking email address, or own your own domain name.

The snarky comments you tweet on Tuesday can get you fired on Thursday. Understand that in the social and online environment, the things you type can outlast you. Regularly inspect every aspect of your online identity, ensuring it accurately reflects how you wish to be portrayed.

Modern HR managers seldom tolerate spelling mistakes on a resume. Don’t let a misplaced “e” before an “i” hurt your chances of a dream job. A simple professional proof read is all it takes to fix them.

These little details may seem trivial, but as Van Halen demonstrates, they can be life and death. Develop your own brown M&M’s system that keeps you aware of all of the little details that define you in a big way.

How to Get Out of Your Own Way on the Path to Success

INC Magazine

Over the years, I have heard many excuses for people not getting the success they want or believe they deserve from an opportunity. I have been known to use a few myself here and there.

“The opportunity wasn’t really there.” 

“The timing wasn’t right.”

“I just didn’t fit with those people.”

“I’m just not lucky.”

It’s not that the excuses weren’t ever valid. It’s just sometimes the excuses come whether or not they are valid. Many people start excusing themselves from incredible opportunities before they have the chance to fully explore the possibilities.

When you find the right opportunity, the one that can take you to a whole other level of success, you want to be able to grab it and run.  The last thing you want is to trip on your own feet and let it get away or worse, be the immoveable object in the path to success.  Here are five tips for getting out of your own way on the road to success.

1. Be disciplined. If you truly want to win the big game, you can’t be sloppy.  You are competing against people who train and learn and practice. You need to be in control of your own destiny and that means being in control of your daily activity. Have your priorities figured out. If you don’t know them, you’ll be prone to distraction. If they’re wrong, you’ll get off track. Be able to focus the right amount of thought, energy, and activity on the actions that will get you close to your goal. Learn to focus and dismiss distraction when it’s time to get to work.

And most importantly, learn how to rest. No one can work all the time without being exhausted. You need time to recharge if you are going to play at your best. Burn out is a poor excuse for failure.

2.  Be confident. I have battled my own share of insecurities. When you are blazing new trails, it’s hard to be 100 percent assured, but you have the control. I was whining to a friend when I was younger that I wished I were more confident.  He looked at me and said: “Kevin why don’t you just decide to be confident.” I did and have not looked back since. Confidence comes from preparation and a decisive state of mind.  When I am speaking and presenting, I feel most confident when I have done my research and have practiced my speech at least a dozen times in front of people. Give yourself what you know you need. Whether it is practice, prep time, food, sleep, or funds take away the material excuses so you can move forward without concern.

3. Be bold. Many people just stare on the sidelines waiting for an opportunity to drag them into success. Being timid brings very little value when chasing your dreams. You need to take action and jump two feet in. Be bold.

However, this does not mean be careless. You have to do your homework and analysis.  The most successful people have shown their boldness by waiting while everyone rushes an opportunity too early.  Study, prepare and assess, but know when it is time to stop analyzing, theorizing, practicing. Then make the decision to jump in or launch and just do it and do it big.

4. Be gracious. Graciousness is not just about being nice. It’s also about being humble. True success and best served among friends and teammates who share in the glory and accomplishment.  Start getting out of your own way by admitting when you’re lost, behind, or overwhelmed. Accept the greatest achievements come from the combined work and thought of many. Invite smart, energetic people into your journey and share the wealth and the credit along the way. Revel in their growth happiness and success, and they will celebrate yours.

5. Be grateful. Every day, I feel blessed. I have had my share of challenges and difficulties throughout my life, more than some, fewer than others. But with those turbulent times came growth and opportunity. I always seem to find myself further down the success path. Even after complete loss and reinvention I still managed to find opportunities that made it worth getting out of bed and smiling.

Those times of loss make me more sensitive and grateful for the blessings in my life. Be it people who love me, good health, positive cash flow or just the chance to laugh daily, I never forget to share my appreciation with those who support me along the way.

Why your employees really need disability protection

A recent study by the Council for Disability Awareness found that employees think they have a 1% chance of becoming disabled for 90 days or more in their working life.  The correct answer?  25X higher!  Considering that the average American has little financial buffer, and prolonged disability can be devastating – costing them their savings, retirement funds, house and cars.

Considering that, in the same study, 73% said the ability to earn an income is their most valuable financial resource, this is a scary combination.

Group Disability income protection is relatively inexpensive, and can be passed on to the employees (in most cases).  Yet, only 19% of employers provide group disability income protection for their employees.  The administrative burden is no more than administering benefits like Dental and life, and much less than medical.

If you are looking for a benefit that would make you a more attractive employer, help everyone in your company, at a low cost and overhead – think Disability Income insurance.

13 Types of Job Applicants You Should Never Hire

Steve Cody in INC Magazine posted a great article about 13 categories of job applicants you should never hire.  for the full article click here.


Her is a sample:


3. The Sports-Analogy Asshole

For some reason, people assume I love all sports simply because I climb mountains. As a result, I receive job inquiries that use phrases such as “I can hit the ball out of the park for you” and “I’m the missing piece in Peppercomm’s Super Bowl team.” I also get emails from people who tell me they’re the “sherpa” who will “lead my business to the summit.” I don’t hire people who assume they know me when they don’t.

4. The Guilt Tripper

“Hi. My name’s Bob Smith, and I’ve been out of work for 18 months. Having read about your culture, I know I’d fit in perfectly. When can we meet?” Guilt may work in other settings, but not in the workplace. We hire winners. As for the actual meeting date, how does the 12th of never strike you, Bob?

5. The Blank Expressionist

This job applicant lacks the drive to research our firm in advance and is unable to formulate at least one intelligent question during an interview. As a result, she answers our questions but responds with a blank stare when we ask if she has questions of her own. Sorry, but we aren’t looking to hire toll booth collectors at the moment.

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Reeve Conover is a Registered Representative. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/dealer member FINRA/SPIC. Cambridge and Conover Consulting are not affiliated. Licensed in SC, NC, NY, CT, NJ, and CA. - SIPC - Brokercheck