First Monday: Executive briefing for March

From TV to books to advice, here's your business briefing for March.

March 7: Recession bound? A clue comes today when the Labor Department releases its February employment report. What to watch for: Will January's number — 17,000 jobs lost — be revised, and will February's number be better or worse than that?

March 13: The government sends a redesigned $5 bill into circulation, brightened with dashes of yellow and purple to make the bills harder to counterfeit. What didn't change: Abraham Lincoln's face is still on the front, and the Lincoln Memorial is still on the back.

March 21-30: The New York International Auto Show will feature Honda's latest version of its Fit subcompact.

March 28: Phillip Morris International completes its long-planned spinoff from Altria mo, a restructuring that will separate the declining U.S. tobacco business from the growing international tobacco business. Altria, which is moving its headquarters from New York to Richmond, Va., keeps Phillip Morris USA. Phillip Morris International will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol PM and will be based in New York.


The March issue of Inc. magazine features "The 2008 Executive Compensation Guide," a report on salaries and benefits for executives of private companies, which don't have to reveal these numbers, as public companies are required to do. Companies surveyed had from 10 to 1,000 employees.

Inc. teamed with Seattle-based PayScale, a provider of salary and compensation data. They analyzed numbers by geography and types of industries for five "C-suite" positions: CEO (chief executive officer), CFO (chief financial officer), COO (chief operating officer), CTO (chief technology officer) and CIO (chief information officer).

Using the yardstick of median CEO pay, New York City topped the list, at $289,000, with San Francisco next at $270,000. San Diego's wealth of biotech and defense contractors translates into high pay for CIOs: an average of $207,000, more than the average pay of a CEO in Miami, Seattle or Denver. CTOs have it best in San Francisco, at $205,000. For more extensive information, including additional executive positions and cities, go to


Figuring out what's really made in the USA anymore is tougher than ever, according to the March issue of Consumer Reports.

Even federal agencies that are supposed to decide these things can't agree. Consider beans, for instance. If they're grown in the USA, but dried, rehydrated and canned in the Dominican Republic, and then shipped back to the USA for sale, the Food and Drug Administration calls them a Dominican Republic product. But Customs and Border Protection considers them American.

The package of an American flag brags "certified made in USA," but two components are identified elsewhere as imported.

And that's OK by Federal Trade Commission standards, which consider, among other things, total manufacturing cost and whether final assembly occurred in the USA.

But if seafood is caught in U.S. waters and shipped outside the country for processing, its package must disclose that.

Voices of Google

Its workforce has expanded to more than 16,000 employees, but Google goog continues to excel at instilling a sense of creative fearlessness and ambition in "Googlers," writes Fast Company in its March issue. The story provides, in the words of 15 employees, insights into the famously innovative workplace culture.

"Google lives out loud," says Douglas Merrill, the chief information officer and vice president of engineering. "We argue about strategy and whether our products are good or bad. We argue about everything. But you want conflict to thrive in a supportive way. … We work hard to protect people who argue."

Says David Glazer, engineering director: "What's true in physics about objects in motion is true when you're creating a product. It's easier to keep moving and change course than when you're sitting and thinking and thinking."


By Michele Archer, Special for USA TODAY


Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?

Airs on PBS four Thursdays in a row starting March 27, 10 p.m. ET (check local listings); Larry Adelman, series creator and executive producer.

In Sickness and In Wealth is the riveting first hour of a four-part documentary series that explores why your bank account, race and ZIP code are more powerful predictors of healthiness and life expectancy than your medical coverage, habits and genes. Among some statistics revealed:

•The USA has the highest gross national product in the world, but Americans live shorter, often less-healthy lives than almost any other industrialized country despite spending $2 trillion a year (more than half the world's total) on health care.

•People in the highest income group can expect to live, on average, at least 6½ years longer than those in the lowest. Those in the middle (families of four making $41,300 to $82,600 annually in 2007) will die, on average, two years sooner than those at the top.

•Regardless of income level or social status, African-Americans die earlier than their white peers do.

The Celebrity Apprentice

NBC on Thursdays, 9 p.m. ET/PT; live season finale March 27 (9 p.m. ET/PT)

Two-hour live finale of Donald Trump's reinvigorated The Apprentice franchise will pit the two remaining celebrity contestants against each another in a final challenge to decide which celeb-testant's charity receives $250,000.

Trump admits he was surprised by the stars' business savvy. "But maybe I shouldn't have been," he said. "There's a reason for success."

Trump won't be hiring them, but he hints charities haven't been the only winners this season. "Stephen Baldwin said to me, 'In 20 years in this business, I've never had recognition like I've had now,' " Trump says.

Casting for a second The Celebrity Apprentice, to tape in the fall, is proving easy. "They're calling us now," Trump said. Still vying for the title: country singer Trace Adkins, actor Stephen Baldwin, supermodel Carol Alt, boxer Lennox Lewis, America's Got Talent judge Piers Morgan, and reality-show staple Omarosa Manigault Stallworth.


• Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organizations by Clay Shirky (The Penguin Press, $25.95); out now.

Shirky, who has been described as a "thinker on all things Internet," tackles the broader social and business implications of all those instant messages, mobile phones, blogs and collaborative websites known as wikis.

These tools, Shirky explains, have dramatically changed the way we consume, think, organize and rebel.

Though he's the grandson of a newspaper founder, Shirky chides the profession.

Less time should be spent saving newspapers, he argues, and more time spent figuring out what investigative journalism should look like now that anyone can be a publisher.


Marketplace from the Middle East

Today through March 14, check local public radio station or visit; produced by American Public Media.

Marketplace takes its delightfully quick-witted daily business show on the road, broadcasting live from Dubai and Cairo for two weeks.

"We're going to the Middle East because it's tough to imagine a place that's going to be more important to our economic future," host Kai Ryssdal says. "It's got it all — oil and water, wealth and poverty, religion and secularism."

And growth. According to Marketplace, more than 20% of the world's construction cranes currently operate in booming Dubai, building luxury hotels, office skyscrapers and the tallest building in the world.


By Edward Iwata, USA TODAY

Former Dallas Cowboys great Roger Staubach is now executive chairman of a real estate advisory firm, The Staubach Company, which he founded 31 years ago in Dallas. His company has 1,600 employees in 65 U.S. offices.

Q:How is the commercial real estate marketing doing, and what are your thoughts on a possible recession?

A: In general, commercial real estate is hanging in there. There will be some slowdown, but it's not going to impact the whole sector.

Some parts of the country will be affected more than others. Some smaller retailers who were planning to go into strip-mall centers probably will wait, and the larger big-box companies probably will slow down a little.

We've been through a lot of cycles in the 1970s and '80s and '90s. Even in New York in the early '70s, people said that real estate was in trouble and Manhattan was going to be a ghost town.

But because interest rates are going down and because of the (strong) global economy, if we have a recession, it's going to be very modest. People mention a perfect storm, but I don't see that at all. There are actually a lot of opportunities in this market now.

Q: Is the Federal Reserve taking the right policy actions to deal with the credit crunch and economic downturn?

A: I spoke to the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas a couple weeks ago. I would like to see rates going down. It'll help us get through a difficult time. What (Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke) is doing is positive.

Regarding the real unfortunate people losing their homes, I believe that "government that governs less governs best," but the government does need to step in when needed.

Q: Every company claims to have good organizational values, but how do you actually implement them?

A: We preach that we're in business for our customers. We've got 1,600 people in our company, and we've got to make sure that we're working together and transferring that trust to the customer.

We have a lot of good tools, such as client review forms and calling on customers, to make sure we're seeing consistency in behavior (by our employees). We make sure we're executing and living our message.

We offer a guarantee of service. If our customer feels that we're not living up to what we represent, they have the right to not pay us. That's not a marketing tool. It's a very serious commitment that we make to our clients.

Q: As an NFL Hall of Fame quarterback, what's the most important lesson from sports that you've brought to the business world?

A: As an athlete, I learned teamwork, goals, ambitions. I'm very competitive and want to get there as fast as I can, but you have to bring others with you. You can't do it yourself.

In a company, you have a lot of smart people, and you need to have trust and confidence in others. The biggest lesson is the importance of respecting someone other than yourself.

From a human resources standpoint, it's important to put the right people in the right place, doing the right things. If you do that, miracles can happen.

Q: What does a Super Bowl MVP do in his free time?

A: I have a regular routine. I work out every day with weights, and do more stretching exercises. I play a little golf. I still can play basketball, although I'm not as quick as I used to be. My five children and 12 grandchildren, with one more on the way, keep me busy.


By Patrice Gaines, Special for USA TODAY

Today's guest: James Nolan, CEO of Sara Lee Fresh Bakery and an executive vice president of Sara Lee Corp. sle

• What he's reading now:Great People Decisions: Why They Matter So Much, Why They Are So Hard, and How You Can Master Them by Claudio Fernandez-Araoz. We always need to make the right people decisions. I can use all the help I can get.

• Books that helped him most in his career:Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan and Charles Burck and Winning by Jack Welch.

Both of these books exhibit a management and leadership style that is practical, straightforward and timeless.

I've actually themed meetings around the principles from both of these books. I've required people in my organization to read them. I've quizzed them on the content, and I've been amazed to watch the influence these kinds of books can have on an organization.

• His favorite genre: I prefer non-fiction books that have to do with current events, leadership, great historical moments and chronicles of leading through important changes. I gravitate to stories of inspiration in dealing with all of life's challenges.

•The last book he received as a gift:Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. A great accounting of the wisdom and leadership of Abraham Lincoln.

• His three favorite books:Profiles in Courage by John F. Kennedy, My American Journey by Colin Powell and My Losing Season by Pat Conroy.

These books contain great examples of inspirational leadership. They talk about overcoming obstacles, defining your way and the impact you can have on others.

• When he reads: I read at any free moment that I have, but most often when traveling and at night.

• How he became an avid reader: My father, a doctor, was also a history buff, and my mother is a psychologist who always reinforced the importance of reading. She would give us a word of the week that we had to add to our vocabulary.

Our entire family loves to read. My sister is a director of a library, so I know their influence paid off in at least one of us.

• Favorite website: My son is a creative director on the McDonald's digital account. He created a fantastic character for the online website for McDonald's Dollar Menu that I can't get enough of!

•The last book he gave as a gift:True North: Discover Your Authentic Leadership by Bill George. His concept of authentic leadership is incredibly relevant in today's environment.