Does Customer Recommendation Predict Company Growth?

Fred Reichheld

Fred Reichheld

Net Promoter Scores gauge customer loyalty, expressed by willingness to recommend and advocate the company’s products and services to others.

Its creator, Fred Reichheld of Bain & Company, posited that NPS is a more meaningful measure of a company’s relationship with its customers than customer satisfaction metrics because, he argued, it is correlated with revenue growth.

Richard Owen

Richard Owen

Satmetrix Executives Richard Owen and Laura Brooks further articulated this linkage between customer loyalty and revenue growth.

NPS’s customer loyalty metric is based on 10-point ratings in response to just one question: How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?

Laura Brooks

Laura Brooks

“Promoters” respond with a score of 9 or 10 whereas “Detractors” provide ratings of 0-6, and scores of 7 and 8 are ignored in this system, leading to the question of why they are included.
NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of customers who are Detractors from the percentage of customers who are Promoters.

Timothy L. Keiningham

Timothy L. Keiningham

Critics, including Ipsos Loyalty’s Timothy L. Keiningham, Bruce Cooil of Vanderbilt, BI Norwegian School of Management’s Tor Wallin Andreassen, and Lerzan Aksoy of Fordham, argue that American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is an equally accurate predictor of revenue growth.

They reinforced the frequently-replicated finding that actual behaviors, including positive and negative “word of mouth (WOM)are better predictors than attitudes about possible future behaviors, in their evaluation of longitudinal data from 21 firms and 15,500-plus interviews from the Norwegian Customer Satisfaction Barometer.

Claes Fornell

Claes Fornell

Likewise, University of Michigan’s Claes Fornell, Forrest V. Morgensen, and M.S. Krishan, with Sunil Mithas of University of Maryland, found that “it is possible to beat the market consistently by investing in firms that do well on the ACSI.”

Companies that invest in initiatives to increase customer satisfaction, reflected in higher scores than competitors on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), also performed better in measures of market value.

More surprisingly, they found that these higher returns are associated with lower stock market risk, probably due to “stock market imperfections” that require time to adjust to news of strong ACSI performance.

Bob Hayes

Bob Hayes

Similarly, customer satisfaction and loyalty researcher Bob Hayes contended that “likelihood to recommend” measures the same construct and has the same predictive value of business growth as customer loyalty questions such as:

  • Overall satisfaction
  • Predicted likelihood to purchase again, evaluated through his Purchasing Loyalty Index (PLI)
  • Number of referrals through “word of mouth” and “word of mouse,” calculated in his Advocacy Loyalty Index (ALI)
  • Resistance to defection to competing offers, measured with his Retention Loyalty Index (RLI).

    Hayes Customer Loyalty Grid

    Hayes Customer Loyalty Grid

Hayes’ findings reinforced the caveat that actual behavior is a more accurate than attitudes about likely future behavior, also demonstrated by University of Connecticut’s V Kumar, J Andrew Petersen and Robert Leone in their analysis of telecoms and financial service customers willing to recommend their service provider.

V Kumar

V Kumar

Only about one-third of these potential Advocates actually recommended the provider, and only about 13% of those referrals actually led to new customers.
Kumar and team called this the “promise gap” and suggested that it can be mitigated by delivering beyond customer expectations, even when a customer complains.

Neal A Morgan

Neil Morgan

Indiana University’s Neil A. Morgan and Lopo Leotte Rego of University of Iowa added a wrinkle to critiques of Net Promoter Scores as the sole necessary indicator of customer satisfaction.

Like Keiningham’s team and Hayes, they found that recommendation intentions (“net promoters”) have “little to no predictive value.
Unlike Hayes, their results found little predictive strength for actual behavior in average number of recommendations.

Instead, Morgan and Rego argued for multiple measures of customer satisfaction as the best predictor of revenue group.
Additionally they found that Top 2 Box satisfaction scores – the sum of percentages for the top two point on surveys of purchase intent, satisfaction or awareness – provided “good” predictive value.

Daniel Schneider

Daniel Schneider

The Net Promoter Score also had the lowest predictive validity when compared to three other scales by Stanford’s Jon Krosnick and Daniel Schneider, with Intuit’s Matt Berent and Hays Interactive’s Randall Thomas.

To improve the NPS, the team recommended replacing the 11 point unipolar rating scale with a 7 point bipolar scale from positive to negative impressions.

Jon Krosnick

Jon Krosnick

Their work replicated Hayes’ finding that liking and satisfaction with a company are highly significantly predictors than the likelihood of recommending, so Krosnick’s team recommended including questions like:

  • Overall, how satisfied are you with the each of the following companies?
  • How much do you like or dislike each of the following companies?

They uncovered correlations among measures of customer experience, and showed that liking is the best predictor of the number of recommendations and satisfaction.

Leon Festinger

Leon Festinger

Customers typically form more positive evaluations after the decision to purchase, probably due to validating purchase choices and reduce cognitive dissonance of purchase dissatisfaction, described by Stanford’s Leon Festinger.

These findings suggest that Reichheld’s claim of NPS as “the only question you need to ask” may be unsubstantiated, and that multiple measures of customer experience are more accurate predictors of a company’s revenue performance.

-*How credible is “willingness to recommend” a company as a predictor of its revenue growth?

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Spiritual, Religious Preferences Linked to Thicker Brain Cortex, Reduced Risk of Depression

 

Lisa Miller

Lisa Miller

Ravi Bansal

Ravi Bansal

People who value spiritual and religious practices show different brain structures than those for whom these beliefs are less important, according to Columbia’s Lisa Miller, Ravi Bansal, Priya Wickramaratne, Xuejun Hao, and Myrna M. WeissmanCraig E. Tenke and Bradley S. Peterson.

This finding is consistent with an earlier summary of transformations of brain structure and function associated with spiritual experiences compiled by University of Pennsylvania’s Andrew B. Newberg.

Andrew Newberg

Andrew Newberg

Priya Wickramaratne

Priya Wickramaratne

Miller’s team rated more than 100 volunteers on their risk of depression, based on family history of having parents or grandparents with major depression.

They also evaluated participants’ ratings of spiritual and religious values as well as religious participation at two times during a five year period.
The team also performed structural magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of each volunteer’s brain at the second time point. 

Xuejun Hao

Xuejun Hao

Myrna Weissman

Myrna Weissman

MRI brain scans showed significant differences in brain structure for those who valued spiritual and religious practices: Thicker cortices in the left and right parietal and occipital regions and mesial frontal lobes, and left hemisphere cuneus and precuneus.

In separate investigations, Miller, Wickramaratne, Tenke, and Weissman collaborated with Columbia colleagues Daniel Pilowsky, Helen Verdeli, Marc J. Gameroff, and Mia Sage, and New York State Psychiatric Institute’s Virginia Warner, with Yoko Nomura of Queens College in a 20 year longitudinal study following adult children of people diagnosed with major depression.

Craig Tenke

Craig Tenke

Daniel Pilowsky

Daniel Pilowsky

Adult children who also reported at the beginning of the study that religion or spirituality was “highly important” to them had 75%-90% less risk of experiencing major depression over 10 years, compared with people who had no family history of depression.
These findings suggest that spiritual and religious values buffer genetic risk of depressive disorders.

Mia Sage

Mia Sage

Yoko Nomura

Yoko Nomura

Further support for this notion comes from related work by Columbia’s Tenke, who collaborated with Jürgen Kayser, Carlye G. Manna, Shiva Fekri, Christopher J. Kroppmann, Jennifer D. Schaller, Daniel M. Alschuler, Jonathan W. Stewart, Patrick J. McGrath, and Gerard E. Bruder to report that people who recover from depression have high-amplitude alpha brain activity, which is also associated with continued practice of Qigong meditation, according to University of Graz’s Gerhard Litscher, G. Wenzel, Gerald Niederwieser, and Gerhard Schwarz.

Gerhard Litscher

Gerhard Litscher

Gerald Niederwieser

Gerald Niederwieser

Taken together, these findings on brain wave activity, spirituality, and depression suggest that spiritual practice affects brain function.

Miller’s team posited that spiritual or religious practices like mindfulness, meditation, and religious practice may reduce high familial risk for major depression due to structural changes in the brain.

-*How credible are suggestions that spiritual values and practices alter brain structure and function?

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Walking Linked to More Creative Solutions than Sitting

Marily Oppezzo

Marily Oppezzo

Volunteers generated more novel, feasible, and appropriate ideas when they walked than when they sat, reported Santa Clara University’s Marily Oppezzo and Daniel L. Schwartz of Stanford University.

Dan Schwartz

Dan Schwartz

They contrasted the effects of:
-Walking indoors or outdoors
-Sitting or being pushed in a wheelchair indoors or outdoors.

More than 175 volunteers in 4 experiments completed several well-validated assessments of creative thinking:

  • JP Guilford

    JP Guilford

    Guilford’s Alternate Uses (GAU) for common objects, created by University of Southern California’s J. P. Guilford, to measure of cognitive flexibility and divergent thinking

  • Mark Beeman

    Mark Beeman

    Barron’s Symbolic Equivalence Test (BSE), introduced by Frank Barron of University of California Santa Cruz to measure insight  measured by number of original analogies generated for  complex ideas.

Frank Barron

Frank Barron

The BSE requires abstracting the relational structure of the base statement and repopulating the structure in a different domain, in contrast to the Guilford’s Alternate Uses (GAU), which requires identifying a surface attribute and using it to determine a use.

Dedre Gentner

Dedre Gentner

Analogies were coded according to a protocol developed by Northwestern’s Dedre Gentner that considers the analogies’:

o   Level of detail (vague, precise)
o   Semantic proximity to the base statement (near, far)
o   Relational mapping to the base statement (low, high).

Walking increased 81% of participants’ divergent creativity on the Guilford’s Alternate Uses (GAU), and 23% of participants’ scores for convergent thinking measured by Compound Remote-Association test (CRA).
Walking outside produced the most novel and highest quality analogies
.

Walkers generated an average of 60% more creative ideas than when seated across 4 experiments.
People who walked were more talkative, and their greater verbal output was associated with more valid creative ideas.

Marc Berman

Marc Berman

The sequence of walking and idea generation affects the number and quality of creative suggestions.
Participants generated more valid creative solutions when they walked then sat.
In contrast, those who sat then walked, and people who only sat did not improve across trials.
Walking, rather than being outdoors, led to an increase in analogical appropriate creativity, and the positive effects of walking continued when people continued creative tasks when they sat.

John Jonides

John Jonides

These effects may be attributed to Attention Restoration Theory (ART), described by University of Michigan’s Marc G. Berman, John Jonides, and Stephen Kaplan.
They differentiated two types of attention:

Stephen Kaplan

Stephen Kaplan

They posited that walking in natural environments enables renewal of directed attention capacities and improves performances on difficult tasks when no longer walking.

In contrast, walking in an urban walk requires directed attention to avoid obstacles and dangerous situations, and provides less opportunity to restore directed attention.

Jin Fan

Jin Fan

After they walked, volunteers performed better on tasks to test attentional functions on Jin Fan of Mount Sinai Medical School’s Attention Network Test that evaluate:

  • Alerting
  • Orienting
  • Executive attention.

Benefits of walking on creative production were not related to mood or weather conditions during four different seasons.
Even viewing photographs of nature helped participants improve backwards digit-span compared with viewing photographs of urban environments, in Opezzo and Schwartz’s investigation.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche

These studies validate Friedrich Nietzsche’s observation that “all truly great thoughts are conceived by walking and imply the value of walking in a natural setting before generating creative ideas.

Another implication is based on the finding that talk volume was associated with increased volume and quality of creative ideas.
As a result, allocating sufficient time for extended discussion is likely to increase innovative output.

Access to walking places in natural settings is more than a pleasant amenity: It enhances effective cognitive functioning and performance.

-*How effective have you found taking a brief walk outdoors before high-stakes discussions?

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Laptop Note-Taking leads to “Shallower Cognitive Processing” than Manual Notes

Pam Mueller

Pam Mueller

Taking notes on a laptop computer may not enhance understanding and recall as much as using the old-fashioned method of taking notes by hand:
People who hand-wrote notes to retain information performed better on factual and conceptual questions about the content than those who took notes on a laptop computer, according to Princeton’s Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer of UCLA.

They distinguished between two types of note-taking:

Virpi Slotte

Virpi Slotte

More “superficial” (shallower) information processing is linked to less accurate text comprehension, found  University of Helsinki’s Virpi Slotte and Kirsti Lonka, and to lower performance on questions to assesses integrative and conceptual understanding, in findings by Clemson University’s Brent Igo, Roger Bruning of University of Nebraska, and Victoria University’s Matthew McCrudden.

Kirsti Lonka

Kirsti Lonka

To determine which note-taking techniques are associated with more robust information processing, Muller and Oppenheimer asked participants to view 15-minute TED Talks or recorded lectures while recording handwritten or laptop notes.
Next, these volunteers completed two 5-minute distractor tasks and a reading span task to test working memory.

Roger Bruning

Roger Bruning

By this time, 30 minutes had elapsed since the end of the lecture, and participants answered questions about the content focusing on:

  • Factual-recall, such as “Approximately how many years ago did the Indus civilization exist?”
  • Conceptual-application, like “How do Japan and Sweden differ in their approaches to equality within their societies?”

Mueller-Oppenheim Question TypesVolunteers who took notes on a laptop were more likely to record nongenerative, or verbatim notes, and like previous findings, showed poorer performance on both factual-recall questions and conceptual-application questions.

Even when participants were explicitly instructed to “take notes in your own words and don’t just write down word-for-word what the speaker is saying,” people taking notes on laptops still recorded more verbatim notes than manual note-takers – and their comprehension performance still did not improve.

Matthew McCrudden

Matthew McCrudden

In another variation that included a week delay between the lecture and note-taking and the comprehension test, half the participants reviewed their handwritten or laptop notes for 10 minutes before the test and the other volunteers answered test questions without reviewing material.

Daniel Oppenheimer

Daniel Oppenheimer

Previous results were replicated under these conditions, suggesting that people who paraphrase content instead of recording verbatim tend to demonstrate greater content comprehension – and this advantage is enabled by the slower approach to manual note-taking.

Taking notes on a laptop computer enables users to transcribe information at higher speeds than manual note-taking, according to C. Marlin “Lin” Brown, then of Xerox, yet drawbacks include:

  • Shallower information processing
  • Decreased conceptual understanding
  • Reduced factual recall
  • Distraction in multi-tasking on email or social media

-*How do you maintain increase comprehension and retention when taking notes using a laptop computer?

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Most Effective “Calls to Action” Are Aligned to Audience “Construal Level”, Psychological Distance”

Nir Halevy

Nir Halevy

Leaders can elicit stronger commitment and willingness to follow requested actions when they deliver messages tailored to the audience’s “psychological distance” from them, according to Stanford’s Nir Halevy and Yair Berson of Bar-Ilan University.

Yaacov Trope

Yaacov Trope

Construal level theory” (CLT), developed by NYU’s Yaacov Trop and Nira Liberman of Tel Aviv University, posits that the “psychological distance” is related to differences in organizational hierarchy position as well as spatial and temporal distance.

Nira Liberman

Nira Liberman

Halevy and Berson found that greater psychological distance requires greater message abstractness, often characterized as “high level,” “visionary,” and “big picture” communications.

In contrast, communications with people who work closely with each other are more influential when messages are concrete and specific.

Yair Berson

Yair Berson

Halevy and Berson found that “construal fit” is associated with greater job satisfaction, commitment, and social bonding.

These findings add to other “fit” theories, pioneered by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard’s Situational Leadership concepts, and suggest leadership behaviors are most effective when tailored to specific workplace situations,

Paul Hersey

Paul Hersey

Practical implications include:

  • Providing more specific messages to people working in different locations and time zones.
  • Pairing individuals at closer organizational levels for workplace mentoring rather than “executive shadowing” experiences.
Ken Blanchard

Ken Blanchard

*How do you tailor leadership communications based on the audience’s “psychological distance” and “construal level?”

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Negotiation Drama: Strategic Umbrage, Line-Crossing Illusion and Assertiveness Biases

Daniel R Ames

Daniel R Ames

Assertiveness style, and matching assertiveness style to specific situations, can determine success as a leader and negotiator, according to Columbia University’s Daniel Ames and Abbie Wazlawek.

Abbie Wazlawek

Abbie Wazlawek

Earlier, Ames and Stanford’s Frank Flynn reported that moderate levels of assertiveness are associated with career advancement, and with effective negotiation and influence in conflict situations.
In addition, they found that most observers provided consistent ratings of managerial under-assertiveness and over-assertiveness.

Francis Flynn

Francis Flynn

However, most people do not accurately assess others’ evaluation of their assertiveness calibration and alignment to specific situations.
Over-assertive individuals tend to have less-accurate self-perception than less assertive people, and both groups experience “self-awareness blindness.
These inaccurate self-perceptions may develop from polite yet inaccurate feedback from others, which provides faulty information.

A frequently-employed negotiation tactic is overly-dramatic emotional verbalizations during negotiations.
More than 80% of participants reported that they had expressed greater objections than they actually felt to influence the negotiation partner, and a different 80% of volunteers said they observed exaggerated objections by their negotiation partners.

Daniel Ames AssertivenessParticipants in Ames and Watzlawek’s studies reported whether they or their counterpart used these excessive emotional displays in negotiation role-plays.
In addition, they rated their own and their negotiation partner’s assertiveness styles.

Self-awareness resulted in most favorable negotiation results: More than 80% of negotiators rated by others and by themselves as “appropriately assertive in the situation” negotiated a deal that provided greatest value to both parties.

Ames Assertiveness U CurveStrategic umbrage also appeared effective:  People who received strategic umbrage displays by their negotiation partners were more likely to rate themselves as over-assertive in their negotiation position, even though the counterpart rated the assertiveness as appropriate to the situation.
Ames and Watzlawek called this misperception of others’ perceptions the line-crossing illusion.

Just 40% of negotiators rated as appropriately assertive but experienced the line-crossing illusion negotiated the best possible deal for themselves and their counterparts, suggesting that disingenuous emotional displays of strategic umbrage lead negotiators to seek the first acceptable deal, rather than pushing for an optimal deal.

Jeffrey Kern

Jeffrey Kern

To improve accuracy of meta-perception of other people’s perception of assertiveness style, Ames and Wazlawek suggested:

  • Participate in 360 degree feedback
  • Increase skill in listening for content and meaning
  • Consider whether the positions discussed in negotiation are “reasonable” in the situation in light of comparable alternatives and options
  • Request feedback on “strategic umbrage” reactions, to better understand additional factors that modify perceptions of “offer reasonableness
  • Evaluate costs and benefits of specific assertiveness styles
    Gary Yukl

    Gary Yukl

    Over-assertiveness may provide the benefit of “claiming value” in a negotiation or achieving a goal, but the cost may be ruptured interpersonal relationships and a legacy of ill-will, according to Jeffrey M Kern of Texas A&M as well as SUNY’s Cecilia Falbe and Gary Yukl

  • Consider cultural norms for assertiveness regulation In “low context” cultures like Israel, dramatic displays are frequent and expected in negotiations
    In contrast, “high context” cultures like Japan require more nuanced assertiveness, with fewer direct disagreements and “strategic umbrage” displays, according to Edward T. Hall, then of the U.S. Department of State.
Edward T Hall

Edward T Hall

Likewise, under-assertiveness may benefit by minimizing interpersonal conflict, but may lead to poorer negotiation outcomes and undermined credibility when interacting with counterparts in future, according to Ames’ related research.

To augment a less assertiveness style:

  • Set slightly higher goals
  • Reconsider assumptions that greater assertion leads to conflict and interpersonal dislike, and consider that proactivity may lead to increased respect and improved outcomes
  • Collaborate with more others to observe, evaluate the outcomes

To modulate a more assertiveness style:

  • Make slight concessions to increase rapport and trust with others
  • Collaborate with less assertive others to note, assess the impact

The line-crossing illusion is an example of a self-perception bias in which personal ratings of behavior may not match other people’s perceptions, and others’ behaviors can attenuate individual confidence and assertiveness.

*How do you reduce the risk of developing the line-crossing illusion in response to other people’s displays of “strategic umbrage”?

*How do you match your degree of assertiveness to negotiation situations?

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Brief Aerobic Exercise Increases Attention, Reading Performance

Michele Tine

Michele Tine

As little as 12 minutes of aerobic exercise increased selective attention and reading comprehension scores for low-income young adults at a highly selective, ”academically elite” (“Ivy League”) US undergraduate university, reported Dartmouth College’s Michele T. Tine and Allison G. Butler of Bryant University.

Alison Butler

Alison Butler

Even these highly-skilled participants, admitted to one of the US’s top academic institutions, had significantly different scores on Selective Visual Attention (SVA) and reading comprehension pre-test tasks, depending on their socio-economic status.

Courtney Stevens

Courtney Stevens

Selective Visual Attention (SVA) is the ability to focus on visual targets while ignoring irrelevant stimuli, and an Executive Function” (EF) required for academic and on-the-job learning, according to University of Oregon’s Courtney Stevens and Daphne Bavelier of University of Rochester.

Specifically, selective attention predicts skills in:

according to University of Oregon’s Stevens with Brittni Lauinger and Helen Neville.

Daniel Hackman

Daniel Hackman

Executive Functions, like Selective Visual Attention (SVA,) are positively correlated to socioeconomic status, found University of Pennsylvannia’s Daniel A Hackman and Martha J Farah, indicating that people with financial advantages often perform better on Executive Function tasks than people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Eric Zillmer

Eric Zillmer

One well-validated measure of Selective Visual Attention (SVA) is the d2 Test of Attention, rapid trials of a manual letter cancellation task, developed by Rolf Brickenkamp and Eric Zillmer of Drexel University.
Participants Tine and Butler’s investigation indicated when they observed the target character among visual distractors.

John Best

John Best

One intervention to increase Executive Function skills, including Selective Visual Attention (SVA) is aerobic exercise, according to University of British Columbia’s John Best.

James Williams

James Williams

In addition to increasing Executive Functions, aerobic exercise increases levels of cortisol and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).
These elements are associated with cognitive performance including Selective Visual Attention (SVA), reported Texas Tech’s Lee T Ferris and Chwan-Li Shen with James S Williams of Texas State University, as well as University of Dublin’s Eadaoin W. Griffin, Sinead Mulally, Carole Foley, Stuart A. Warmington, Shane M. O’Mara, and Aine M. Kelly.

Éadaoin W Griffin

Éadaoin W Griffin

Likewise, stress increases levels of cortisol, and lower-income people tend to experience more chronic stress, leading to higher levels of cortisol, according to Northwestern’s Edith Chen and Gregory E. Miller with Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie, and separately by Cornell University’s Gary Evans and Michelle Schamberg.

Edith Chen

Edith Chen

Tine and Butler investigated these diverse findings by asking volunteers to:

Gary Evans

Gary Evans

Items include:

  • My parent was fired from his/her job
  • I was a victim of a crime
  • A close friend or family member had health problems
  • My parents divorced or separated
  • I had problems being liked by classmates

Participants also completed three reading comprehension tasks from Sharon Weiner Green and Ira K. Wolf’s GRE Preparation items.

Douglas Williamson

Douglas Williamson

After 45 minutes, participants monitored heart rate to ensure that it was within 10 beats per minute of pre-test measures of resting heart rate.
Brief aerobic exercise sessions eliminated the gap between “Executive Function” performance scores for talented volunteers from lower-income and high-income backgrounds.

Lower-income participants who exercised aerobically had reading comprehension scores comparable to their higher-income counterparts, around 90%,
Likewise, people who exercised significantly improved Selective Visual Attention (SVA) scores, but the video-viewers’ scores did not change, suggesting that exercise was the “active ingredient” in these performance improvements.

In addition, volunteers who exercised and reported higher chronic stress level achieved higher SVA scores and greater SVA score improvement than those who reported less chronic stress.
Cognitive performance improvements were maintained 45 minutes after exercise.

These findings suggest aerobic exercise as an effective, low-cost intervention to reduce achievement differences between people from lower-income and more affluent backgrounds, and this could contribute to increasing the number of diverse applicants in selective higher education settings and skilled employment – as well as increasing endurance, cardiac health, and reducing stress.

-*How have you seen workplaces encourage participation in aerobic exercise for the next generation of potential employees as well as current employees?

-*Do organizations receive more benefit from reducing health care costs and health-related absences or from increasing attention, innovation, and productivity?

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