Archives For Todd Burkhalter




Weekly Update – November 14, 2011


It was another yo-yo week for the stock market as ongoing worries surrounding Europe’s debt crisis kept investors in suspense. The choppy period eventually ended with a rally on Friday as welcome news of a political shake-up in Greece and Italy boosted confidence that there will be further progress toward a solution.


Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou has been replaced by former banker and European Central Bank Vice President Lucas Papademos[i], while Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who resigned on Friday, will likely be replaced by former EU Commissioner Mario Monti. The world will be watching as new leadership in both countries fight to implement reforms quickly and aggressively. Just Saturday, the Italian lower house of parliament approved a series of austerity measures demanded by Europe to shore up confidence in the country’s economy. It passed by a vote of 380 to 26.[ii]


Why should any of this matter to Investors? While Greece is only the 32nd largest economy in the world, Italy holds the 8th spot, and is the 3rd largest in Europe.[iii] If these two countries can get their acts together, other debt-laden countries in the region will have a model to follow. If they fail to create change, the consequences could be far-reaching. Europe as a whole makes up 25-30% of the global economy, and millions of American jobs depend on stability and growth there. To quote Jacob Kirkegaard of the Institute for International Economics: “Europe is by far our biggest trading partner. It’s where most of our exports go. It’s where we have most of our foreign direct investments. US multinational corporations are in Europe.” [iv]



The Cycle of Growth

November 8, 2011 — Leave a comment

If there is one factor with the greatest potential to mend our economy, it is a steadily improving employment picture. How so? When you look at the U.S. economy as a whole, it is primarily supported by consumer spending.[i] In order for consumers to spend, they must have a measure of disposable income. In order to have disposable income, Americans must have jobs.


To look at it another way: As the employment situation improves, consumer spending typically increases, thus creating additional demand for goods and services. As demand for goods and services grows, more production is needed, thus creating more jobs, and so on. At risk of oversimplifying, this combination of factors explains the cycle of a healthy economy.


So are we seeing improvement in the nation’s jobs picture? Yes. One year ago, the unemployment rate was 9.7%. As of October’s report, it dropped to 9%. On average 152,000 jobs have been added each month during the same time period, for a total of 1.8 million jobs. In addition, the workweek has lengthened and wages are up 1.8%.[ii] All of this shows that the employment picture is gradually improving. Interestingly, October also showed improvement in chain store sales. Overall, the 23 major U.S.-based retailers that report monthly results posted a composite 3.4% gain, according to Thomson Reuters data.[iii]


Does this mean we are completely out of the woods? Not necessarily. For the most part, American wallets aren’t fat enough to push the economic expansion into hyperdrive. Even the 1.8% wage growth mentioned above isn’t enough to keep pace with current inflation rates. We still have a long way to go to reach our full potential, but things are moving in the right direction.


Monday –
Consumer Credit
Tuesday – Redbook
Wednesday – Wholesale Trade, Ben Bernanke Speaks at 9:30AM Eastern
Thursday – International Trade, Jobless Claims, Import and Export Prices, Treasury Budget
Friday – Consumer Sentiment

Leadership Style

October 10, 2011 — Leave a comment


How are you leading? I didn’t ask are you leading. I believe that all of us are leading in some way, whether it’s a corporation, friends, family, in our church etc. everyone influences in some way. Since we are now clear that we are all leading or influencing others, how are you leading?




This question was one that I was recently exposed to as a part of a program that I am involved, Leadership Johns Creek. I am honored to have been included in this 9 month project where business and community leaders partner to better the Johns Creek community. At a recent retreat we were able to examine our individual leadership styles. This self-assessment was administered by dynamic business and leadership coach Dianne Young. Dianne is the Founder and an instructor at Propel Training and Development.  Dianne shared with us the curriculum to assess our leadership style. The five different types of leadership styles are:

  •  Challenging the Process

        * Search for opportunities/change             

        * Try new approaches

  • Inspiring a Shared Vision

          * Envision the future

          * Enlist others

  • Enabling Others to Act

          * Foster collaboration

          * Strengthen one another

  • Modeling the Way

         * Live the vision

         * Commit to shared value

  • Encouraging the Heart

          * Recognize individual contributions

          * Celebrate accomplishments



The five leadership styles listed above were created from the research and studies of James Kouzes and Barry Posner. They were the authors of Leadership Practices Inventory. If you would like to learn more about which style you demonstrate contact Dianne Young.

This was a valuable exercise for me to understand not only my style, but I believe it is important to know how those around you lead and like to be led.

Are you developing your leadership skills? If so, what tools are you using for either growth or assessment?