Justin Johnson, current Deputy Commissioner of Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation, will become Deputy Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

The Vermont Government’s press release states, Justin “Johnson brings with him eighteen years of experience working in local, state and federal government in both the United States and Australia. He was a senior executive in a large municipal government in Australia, and spent three years as Chief-of-Staff to a member of the Australian House of Representatives overseeing constituent services, policy development, research and staffing.  His Vermont career began at the (then) Department of Agriculture as a marketing specialist. He has worked as both Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation, beginning in 2004.”

“Since Justin already has such a strong understanding of the Agency and its goals and challenges, I am optimistic that this will be a smooth and seamless transition,” said Departmental Secretary Markowitz. “I am excited about the great team we have here at the Agency and am looking forward to working with Justin to make sure we continue to protect our natural environment, build resilient communities, and support our working landscape.”

Related Links

Interesting Project on “Reducing Food Waste Through Source Reduction” from our friend Justin Johnson

Governors’ Global Climate Summit 2 – on the road to Copenhagen

Congratulations Terry A’Hearn: Chief Executive Officer of the Northern Ireland Environment Agency

Victorians Abroad in Boston – “Victorians from many diverse fields were there from biotech, ICT, financial services, consulting, law, film-making to museum curating. The President of the Boston Demons football club attended providing an excellent link to home for everyone. The Vermont State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, Justin Johnson, is an RMIT graduate.”

The Economist Group and the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism has reported tablet news users of all ages reported a preference a “print-like” experience when reading news on the tablet.

Other Findings:

  • Men–especially young men–are more likely to get news on a tablet: More than 40 percent of male tablet owners read news news daily on their tablet, compared with only 30 percent of women. Younger men are also more likely to watch news videos (65 percent), read in-depth articles (84 percent) and check news multiple times a day (48 percent).
  • Younger generations like their news in video form: Almost 60 percent of younger tablet owners report watching news videos on their tablet, compared to 45 percent of those over the age of 50.
  • Younger news consumers also tend to share more news, though the percentage is still low: 37 percent of tablet news readers age 18 to 49 share news through social networks, compared with only 21 percent of those 50 and over.
  • Browsers are the most popular way people get their mobile news, but college educated tablet news consumers gave a greater affinity toward apps: 30 percent of college educated tablet news readers get their news through apps, compared to 17 percent of those less educated.
  • Younger generations still prefer a “print-like” reading experience on tablets: 60 percent of those under 40 favor a more traditional reading experience on the tablet, free from more interactive features.

What do you think?  What’s your preference?

Sophie McCarthy

This morning I was preparing for a meeting to establish a new mentoring relationship.  Serendipity: Advance’s newsletter appeared in my in-tray and featured Sophie McCarthy’s Top 10 Tips for Successful Mentors.   

Sophie’s tips are nice phrased and are:

  1. Advisor: A valuable mentor creates a learning environment and helps build a culture of trust by encouraging, advising and guiding the mentee.
  2. Commitment: Mentors should be available and committed to the success of the relationship.
  3. Attributes: A good mentor is a strategist, trusted advisor, role model, leader, nurturer, teacher, supporter and challenger.
  4. Style: The best mentor has many different working styles and will adopt a style that suits both the situation and the mentee.
  5. Listen: Being an active listener – truly hearing and understanding what the mentee is saying – is one of the most important aspects of good mentoring.
  6. Objectives: A clear purpose and understanding of the goals, expectations and obligations should be established at the start.
  7. Wisdom: Mentors need to have ‘walked some decent miles’ – although not necessarily in the same industry.
  8. Guide, don’t drive: Let the mentee be the driver of the relationship. The mentee sets the pace and the goals and the mentor provides the trusting learning environment.
  9. Trust: When a mentee truly believes that you can hold in confidence what they tell you, trust will grow exponentially.
  10. Equality: The partnership should be one of mutual respect and equality. In a successful relationship both the mentor and mentee is stimulated, engaged, learning and inspired.

Read the full article at http://advance.org/articles/tips-for-mentors/

Victor Perton is the principal of Victor Perton Global Partners, a Barrister & Attorney.  Victor Perton Global Services delivers international trade and foreign investment advice and services, investor relations and social media strategy, mentoring, training and delivery.   Victor undertakes a small number of mentoring and coaching engagements.  He may be contacted via linkedin.

Congratulations to the talented Sue Barrett for her 12 Sales Trends for 2013 published today with the theme ‘Up close and personal.’  Sue’s 12 Trends are:

  1. Corporate social responsibility at the sales coal face – no more only ‘what’s in it for me;
  2. Customer Experience Management (CX) will Replace CRMs
  3. Customers Control the Buying Process
  4. Salespeople Become Financial Managers
  5. Going mobile – the rise of Smart Phones in Sales
  6. Marketing (as we know it) is dead
  7. Breaking the chain of ignorance – upping the pace of transformation
  8. Empathy – the new sales edge
  9. The University of Selling
  10. Instant Access to Solutions
  11. Sales Leadership in uncertain times – stop managing & start leading
  12. Delivering Real Value beyond product & price

These headings should stimulate you to read Sue’s explanation for each of these trends on her blog.  You can also purchase and download Sue’s detailed 49 page report of the 12 Sales Trends for 2013 now to see which sales trends will have the greatest impact on your sales optimisation efforts in 2013.

I love India.  I love its culture, diversity, colour, people and sounds.  This morning, I wrote about a fabulous Round Table over the weekend involving Australian Ministers, MPs and businesspeople meeting their Indian counterparts hosted by Delhi’s Observer Research Foundation in conjunction with the Australia-India Institute at the University of Melbourne and the Lowy Institute for International Policy. It was supported by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

One of my 3 rules of social media is “Be Nice.”  So suffice it to say I find it hard to keep a straight face reading that today Treasurer Wayne Swan is going to India to discuss the opportunities of the Asian Century!   The Indians will be fascinated by the Australian Treasurer’s take on this.  At the very least, I hope he will compare notes with his Ministerial colleague Mr Martin Ferguson MP who opened the weekend Round Table in India.  My suspicion is that Wayne doesn’t know Martin has just returned.

For the sake of the record, the Treasurer said, “Tonight I depart for India to meet with senior Indian Government and business leaders to discuss the opportunities for our two countries in the Asian Century, building on the goodwill the Prime Minister generated in her October visit.  India is an emerging economic powerhouse and one of Australia’s closest regional partners, so this visit will be a great opportunity to build on our strong friendship and our growing economic ties.  India’s stellar growth over the past two decades has seen it become the third largest economy in the world. As set out in the Gillard Government’s Asian Century White Paper, the Indian economy is transforming rapidly, and is projected to grow at an average annual rate of 6¾ per cent to 2025.Together, India and China will make the largest contribution to global and regional economic growth to 2025.  By then, the combined economic weight of these two countries alone is expected to surpass that of the G7 countries combined.  India is Australia’s fourth largest merchandise export destination and my visit will help ensure we are well-positioned to improve on this strong relationship as the middle classes in countries like India grow rapidly through the coming decades of the Asian Century. My visit will also provide for a timely a first-hand assessment of economic conditions in India and throughout the region at a time when there are still serious challenges to the global economic recovery. India and Australia are both affected by the uncertainty besetting the US and European economies, and my Indian counterparts and I have argued strongly for action to address their underlying problems, particularly at the G20. During my visit I look forward to meeting with India’s Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, as well as leading economists and senior business leaders from both Indian and Australian firms to discuss the opportunities unfolding in India and the region.”

Relevant Links

Thanks to the Industry Capability Network for their hospitality tonight at the 2012 End of Year Networking Function.  There were many interesting conversations about topics from Nabers to Neighbours.

Over 650 people attended and the event was graced with keynote speeches by:

  • Tim Piper, ICN Victorian Chair;
  • Richard Dalla-Riva, Minister for Manufacturing;
  • Paul Johnson, the Energy Resources Supplier Advocate.

Craig Ondarchie

Other dignitaries included Victorian MPs Tim Holding and Craig Ondarchie.  Reflecting on the event, Craig Ondarchie said, “For business, 2013 should be the year of focus. We’ve endured uncertainty in many of our markets, watched as emerging revenue streams re-ignite in parts of Asia and felt the cost of capital change shape. The new year provides a catalyst to sharpen the business plan, service debt and consolidate the balance sheet to ensure preparedness for innovative market opportunities.” 

It was good to catch up with ICN professionals like Candida Costa-Wong and Rob McCullagh.  Great to catch up with many old friends and hear new stories about the interesting businesses people are in in Melbourne.

Tim Piper

Commenting after the event, ICN Chairman Tim Piper said, “The ICN was delighted to host so many from industry. Victorian businesses are developing a new attitude to their work which recognises a high Australian dollar as a part of the near future and doing more with less. However they value the work that ICN does to keep them in the picture for many projects around Australia.”

In today’s Australian, Henry Ergas comments on the Independent Report on the Victorian Taxi Industry “inquiry conducted by Allan Fels and David Cousins, two of Australia’s most distinguished public servants.”

I commend you to read Henry’s article in full at http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/baillieus-chance-to-be-hailed-as-a-taxi-reformer/story-fn7078da-1226533234798  My take-ways:

  • The report shows that the nominal annual return on a licence purchased in 1980 has been in the order of 22 per cent, nearly double a conservative estimate of the cost of capital and far more than is available on any comparable asset. With returns so high, licences are naturally extremely valuable. Had licences been valued in line with a normal, inflation-adjusted, return, they would now be worth $60,000; in fact, they trade for $500,000.  Underlying those valuations are hidden taxes on consumers. Their extent is chilling: on Henry’s estimates, the accumulated transfer from 1985 to today is equivalent to taking $1000 from each of Melbourne’s 4,130,000 inhabitants and giving it to the 3500 owners of taxi licences. That transfer occurs through taxi fares that are about 20 per cent higher than they would be without artificial restrictions on taxi numbers.
  • The rip-off does not involve fares alone. Consumers are also hit by persistently poor service, with delays adding another 20 per cent to the real cost of using taxis.
  • Dispatch companies take no responsibility for when cabs arrive or whether they arrive at all; nor do they even bother to accurately measure service quality, with one provider admitting it simply shuts its phone lines once bookings reach capacity, so that it doesn’t know how many consumers it turns away.
  • Waiting times for disabled consumers are twice the average, so even trivial trips can become nightmares, frightening those consumers, who risk being stuck without any way of getting home, and aggravating their isolation.
  • None of these gains goes to the benefit of drivers. On the contrary, the report estimates drivers earn barely $13 an hour, $3 less than the minimum wage. The result is chronically high turnover, with over half of all active metropolitan drivers having less than three years’ experience, while one in four are in their first year.  Additionally, with wages so low, drivers have few incentives to invest in keeping their job, making it even more difficult to ensure attentive and efficient service.  To make things worse, the regulated pricing structure makes it unattractive for drivers to accept short fares. Not only do drivers routinely turn down short trips but each day up to 20 per cent of Melbourne’s taxis sit empty at the airport, waiting for longer fares to materialise. In the meantime, elderly and disabled consumers, whose trips are often local, struggle to find a cab.
  • As one would expect from an inquiry conducted by Allan Fels and David Cousins, two of Australia’s most distinguished public servants, the reform package is finely balanced. Licence values would decline by about 50 per cent, still leaving them above the competitive level; and fares would still be higher than in a fully liberalised market, in part to cover the costs of higher driver remuneration and better quality service.  Consumers would certainly benefit through materially lower fares, reduced waiting times and better motivated drivers; but in an ideal world, it would have been desirable to go even further.
  • The Victorian government is under enormous pressure to subtly scale it the report’s recommendations, compromising, if not eliminating, the gains it would bring.  “The licence owners are past champions at that game, having buried more liberalisation attempts than they have had hot dinners.”  Crying hardship, they front the lobbying but the real puppet-masters are Cabcharge – whose monopoly allows it to clip the ticket on every part of the industry – and the two deep-pocketed taxi dispatch systems, one of which Cabcharge owns.

Thanks for reminding us of the issues, Henry.  I look forward to the Government’s response to the report and hope it implements the recommendations.

Some of my acquaintances and friends have looked mystified as I have suggested they open a Pinterest Account: Even happened this week with two young political operatives.  Pinterest is the fastest growing social media site of 2012.

The White House has opened a Pinterest account: WhiteHouse44 will start pinning on December 17th, and posts will apparently “range from inspiring images and quotes to infographics that help explain key issues to details about the life inside the White House.

Pinterest is a valuable and delightful tool in your social media profile and I commend it to you.

Bill Crosby, Social Media Evangelist, has written a good blog-post entitled, “Top 10 Ways to Use Pinterest for Business.”  Here are Bill’s top 10:

  1. Spread the word about your product through an online photo contest.
  2. Provide high-quality content for your audience: Just like other social networking sites, providing high-quality content on Pinterest boosts your site reputation, thus attracting more attention from your followers. Provide useful information and problem-solving tips in the field you are good at until you become an influential user on Pinterest.
  3. Pin some helpful shopping lists: Provide helpful shopping lists to your followers that include your products. Create a Pinterest board and put pins as shopping lists.
  4. Suggest gift ideas by adding price tags: You’ve probably noticed that some items on Pinterest have price tags on them. You, too, can do it by simply adding a price in the description along with this symbol – $.
  5. Use Pinterest as a marketing tool: Find out what your customers think and figure out the products that they need. Also, think about the latest trends and which products sell best at present. With Pinterest’s live feed, you will have an accurate update about what your customers think and need at the moment.
  6. Create product bundles: Another good way to use Pinterest is by creating product bundles. Group some of your products that go well together and pin them as a package:
  7. Get product ideas and suggestions from your followers: Have your customers participate in your company’s decision-making by creating a board that lets them throw up all the ideas there. You could also let your customers decide on which idea is the best.
  8. Create a coupon pinboard: Gather all your product coupons and discount codes and place them on a pinboard. This will give value to your customers as you help them save more money while you promote the products you offer.
  9.  Show a more in-depth look of your products: Some customers are curious as to how you make your products so it is a good idea to pin photos of the making of your products. This will also educate your followers about your product’s composition.
  10. Pin on your company’s vision: Make a pinboard showing how you see your company in the next years to come. Create your vision in such a way that you and your team will be motivated to do better in the future.

Other Relevant Links

This is well worth seeing!  It is a delightful story of aging musicians whose passion for life continues undiminished in a stately English manor filled with humor, caring and excellent music.

At age 75, Dustin Hoffman makes his debut as a Director!

A few of my friends were in India this week at the Round Table hosted by Delhi’s Observer Research Foundation in conjunction with the Australia-India Institute at the University of Melbourne and the Lowy Institute for International Policy. It was supported by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Discussions and recommendations covered six themes: energy security and cooperation; strategic assessment of the Indo-Pacific region; economic relations; the role of cities and states in creating external linkages; maritime security; and new frameworks of governance and diplomacy.  The Roundtable was opened by the Australian Minister for Resources and Energy, Mr Martin Ferguson MP, with a forthright assessment of the prospects for and challenges to deeper energy links.  The Australian delegation included Josh Frydenberg MP, Senator Lisa Singh, former High Commissioner to India John McCarthy AO, Rear Admiral (Ret.) James Goldrick AM CSC, Trevor Rowe AO,  John Denton, and senior officials from the Australian and Victorian governments.

The Co-Chair’s Statement released at the end of the Round Table was very positive: “The relationship between Australia and India is poised at an historic moment. Consciously overcoming a challenging period, leaders of the two countries have realised new levels of mutual trust and confidence that are in turn generating policy momentum.  With new positive impulses at hand, links between the two democracies now need sustained creative thinking and efforts on the part of government, business and society to strengthen them further. This will ensure the relationship attains the vast potential offered by the two nations’ exceptional economic and societal complementarities and their convergent strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region during this Asian Century.  These were among key conclusions reached by participants at the Australia-India Roundtable, the leading informal dialogue between the two countries, when it met in New Delhi on 4 and 5 December 2012. The dialogue involved a candid and dynamic exchange of insights and assessments between more than 50 experts, officials, parliamentarians, business representatives and journalists from the two countries. These conversations have resulted in a host of ideas for leaders and policy-makers on both sides to consider and act upon. The Roundtable was hosted by the Observer Research Foundation with Australian partners the Australia-India Institute, University of Melbourne and the Lowy Institute for International Policy, Sydney. It was supported by the Public Diplomacy Division of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs and the Australia-India Council, Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Inaugurating the Roundtable, the Australian Minister for Resources and Energy, Mr Martin Ferguson MP, gave a forthright assessment of global as well as regional energy scenarios and trends. This topic was one among the six themes covered during the Roundtable: energy security and cooperation; strategic assessment of the Indo-Pacific region; economic relations; the role of cities and states in creating external linkages; maritime security; and new frameworks of governance and diplomacy. The following conclusions and ideas emerged from the discussions:

  • The relationship is advancing well, with the October 2012 visit by Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard marking major progress on key fronts.
  • Differences over civilian nuclear energy and Australian uranium exports are being addressed purposefully. Bipartisanship on this issue in Australia now provides a basis for new levels of political trust in relations with India.
  • Australia and India share strong interests in a stable multipolar regional order in Indo-Pacific Asia, spanning the Asia-Pacific and the Indian Ocean littoral. The two countries should step up their coordination and help in shaping the emerging regional diplomatic and security architecture in this time of flux. This could include working together to bolster inclusive regional institutions such as the East Asia Summit, while also being open to creative and functional arrangements such as three-way dialogues with Indonesia or other partners willing to contribute to the regional order.
  • The creation of an Australia-India-Indonesia troika in the Indian Ocean Rim Association for Regional Cooperation is a promising start, and could provide a basis for a maritime security dialogue among the three countries.
  • India and Australia should deepen their security collaboration, including through regular bilateral naval exercises. Potential areas for future defence cooperation include development of amphibious capabilities, submarine rescue, operational communication links, and maritime domain awareness in overlapping zones of interest in the Indian Ocean.
  • The two nations should bring together maritime legal specialists to develop shared understandings on critical regional issues such as freedom of navigation. The two countries should maintain and deepen their dialogues with China and other powers, including to provide reassurance about the stabilising nature of deeper Australia-India security relations.
  • The two countries should work towards an Indian Prime Ministerial visit to Australia and consult closely in the lead-up to the 2014 G20 summit in Brisbane.
  • With Indians comprising one of the largest and fastest-growing communities in Australia, there is great scope to harness societal links to strengthen political and business ties. It is essential to build constituencies to champion Australia-India relations in both countries during future potential phases of trouble, which occur in any bilateral relationship.
  • There are strong complementarities between Australia and India in the field of long-term energy co-operation. An Australia-India energy partnership should cover the full mix of energy sources. It was inevitable that coal and natural gas would continue to play a major role in India’s energy security. Australia and India should therefore redouble efforts to bring together industry and research communities on clean coal technology and to share experience on sustainable mining practices.
  • The timing is right to move towards market based models of co-operation that could provide a long-term and stable foundation for the flow of investments as well as energy resources between the two countries. A full energy partnership would require clear benchmarks and processes for Australian investment in Indian mining, the transparent operation of energy markets, and the facilitation of two-way investment in energy and resources infrastructure. There is scope for joint Australia-India work on hybrid solar, wind and diesel units which could operate independent of the grid and provide reliable, base-load power to remote communities.
  • In education, emphasis should be placed on sharing Australia’s experience in vocational education and training, as well as on delivering Australian tertiary education in India. This wider range of education links should be developed alongside more creative arrangements for skilled labour mobility to suit the needs of the two economies. Australian institutes should consider a full range of ‘offshore’ skilling initiatives to target the demographic needs and opportunities in India.
  • The common character of the two countries as federal democracies should be used as a multiplier in advancing bilateral ties including in trade and culture. Direct relations between Australian and Indian states and cities should be encouraged to complement the work done by national capitals. These state-to-state and city-to-city relations should include the sharing of best practices in service delivery and development, skilling and education.
  • The convening organisations agreed to hold the next meeting of the Australia-India Roundtable in Australia in 2013

Fairfax media certainly regarded it as a success.  Matt wade wrote, “Labor and Liberal MPs have enthusiastically endorsed burgeoning ties between Australia and India at the Australia-India Roundtable, a meeting of more than 50 parliamentarians, diplomats, government officials, academics, business figures and journalists from both countries.  Australia’s first federal parliamentarian of Indian origin, the Labor senator Lisa Singh, and a Liberal MP, Josh Frydenberg – who were at the meeting – both said there was a sense of optimism about the future of the relationship.”