Centerpiece

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You probably didn’t know that in 1937, a horse fell on musical genius Cole Porter, crushing both his legs. He was 46 years old. Through 35 operations and chronic pain, he retained a keen sense of humor and found inspiration everywhere.
The IRS recently announced an increase in the standard mileage rate for the second half of 2011. So taxpayers might discard all the additional records required to deduct actual driving expenses for a new vehicle and go with the IRS-approved shortcut. But don’t assume the standard rate method beats the actual expense method.

Filling a job opening can be tricky if there are several great candidates. You can separate the best from the rest by changing up the usual interview questions. Here are four nontraditional job interview questions to elicit answers that will help you assess candidates on a different level.

CEOs don’t often busy themselves with IT considerations, until a crisis threatens. So it was for Ted Chung, CEO of South Korea’s largest consumer-finance company, who was told by hackers that if he didn’t pay them $500,000, they’d release confidential information. The experience taught him several key lessons:

When protesters targeted the Gap, accus­ing the company of ignoring child labor practices in Cambodia, the company realized it needed a new way to interact with critics. Here are five ways the Gap turned around its tarnished reputation by engaging stakeholders:

Worried that new mothers may not return to work following maternity leave? Increase the odds by building flexibility into your work culture. Offering options for when and where work gets done is one of the best ways to encourage women to come back—and stay—after they give birth.

Lose your job, and it will take about nine months to get another one, reports The New York Times. You might just shave some time from the process by updating your résumé now. A few tips: Embrace technology; avoid overused words that make you blend in; differentiate yourself by replacing the summary.

Disciplinary and termination meetings are emotionally charged events that carry the potential for nasty words, hurt feelings and even legal troubles. You never know how employees will respond. But you need to be prepared for anything. Four do’s and don’ts to defuse rants and avoid lawsuits:

Only big companies can offer generous benefits, right? Wrong! SHRM and the Families and Work Institute have uncovered dozens of examples of small organizations—those with staffs of 20 or fewer—that think big when it comes to employee benefits. See how many of these ideas might be right for your small business.

Got a great idea for a new business? It usually costs money to make money, so you’re likely to incur certain startup costs before the brainstorm starts producing a cash flow. Strategy: Make sure you’re open for business before the end of the year. That will entitle you to deduct your startup expenses on your 2011 return.

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