Figuratively Speaking by John MacIntyre

Figuratively Speaking For January 04, 2009

Year that the tradition of New Year's resolutions had its beginning, according to goalsguy.com: 153 B.C.

Year that Jan. 1 became the beginning of the New Year, when Julius Caesar developed a calendar that would more accurately reflect the seasons than previous calendars: 46 B.C.

Year that the song "Auld Lang Syne" was written by Robert Burns, and is now sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the New Year: 1788

Source: goalsguy.com.

Ranks of losing weight, managing debt, saving money, getting a better job and getting fit on the list of the most popular New Year's resolutions, according to USA.gov: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Source: USA.gov.

Estimated annual cost to the U.S. economy in lowered employee productivity and reduced innovation caused by information overload (described as an excess of information that results in the loss of ability to make decisions, process information and prioritize tasks), according to research from Basex: $900 billion

Percentage of their day that workers spend managing and searching for information: 50

Source: Basex Inc.

Estimated percentage of current congressional members who have degrees in the business, economics or finance fields, according to an analysis of economic education among members of Congress conducted by A Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy: 15

Percentage of members who actually studied economics: 6.7

Percentage of congressional members who have received no formal schooling in economics or business yet are responsible for solving the biggest economic crisis in more than 70 years: 80

Source: Econ4U.

Rank of Italy as the top international country for travelers in 2008 as well as the overall top destination for packaged travel, according to annual polling of member companiesby the U.S. Tour Operator's Association: 1

Number of consecutive years that Italy has held this position: 6

Rank of Latin America -- for the first time -- on the list of the most popular international regions: 1

Source: Kundell Communications.

Date that He PingPing, the world's smallest man, met Svetlana Pankratova of the world's longest legs, according to Guinness World Records highlights for 2008: Sept. 16, 2008

Standing 6 feet 5 inches tall, length of the Russian beauty's legs versus the total height of the tiny 20-year-old He PingPing from Inner Mongolia: 51.9 inches vs. 29.4 inches

Source: Guinness Book of World Records.

Percentage of respondents that expect a decline in their own company's business performance in 2009, according to Mercer global survey: 81

Percentage that are likely to make significant workforce reductions: 35

Rank of worry about retirement investments on the list of employee concerns, respondents report, outweighing employee anxiety about job security: 1

Source: Mercer.

Ranks of "The Shack" by William P. Young, "The Appeal" by John Grisham, "The Host" by Stephenie Meyer and "The Friday Night Knitting Club" by Kate Jacobs on the list of the top sales of adult fiction, according to the Nielsen Company: 1, 2, 3, 4

Ranks of "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle, "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch, "Eat Pray Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert and "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson on the list of the top sales of adult nonfiction: 1, 2, 3, 4

Source: Nielsen Media Research.

Of the 352 companies cited by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for financial statement fraud from 2000 to 2007, percentage that experienced a stock price decline, according to a study from the Deloitte Forensic Center: 70

Of those, percentage that experienced a decline of at least 50 percent: 53

Percentage that delisted from primary stock exchanges: 32

Source: Deloitte Forensic Center.

When asked about their greatest staffing concern in the current economy, percentage of senior executives who cited employee retention, according to a survey developed by Robert Half International: 39

Percentage who said recruitment: 22

Percentage who cited productivity: 17

Percentage who cited employee morale: 17

Source: Robert Half International.

Idle Thought

"Nothing is illegal if one hundred businessmen decide to do it." -- Andrew Young, author, civil rights activist, U.S. congressman, mayor and U.N. ambassador

(Readers can contact John MacIntyre at johnmacintyre(at)bwr.eastlink.ca.)