A Publication of WTVP

Preparing for a Pet Sitter
Your vacation is scheduled, and you prefer your pet stays at home while you are away. In choosing the perfect sitter, you should interview them, check their references and make sure he or she is licensed, bonded and insured—and loves pets.

Kathleen Huffman, franchise owner with Fetch! Pet Care, offers some additional steps you should take to ensure your pet receives the best care possible:

  1. Scheduling. Most sitters book appointments far in advance, so make reservations early to guarantee a spot. If your schedule changes, alert your sitter so additional care can be scheduled.
  2. Pre-visit introduction. Make sure your pet has an opportunity to meet the sitter before your vacation. Give the sitter your pet schedule, feeding and medication instructions, and if possible, have him or her take your dog for a walk—or bond for a few minutes with your cat or other pets—so they can get accustomed to one another.
  3. Pet care information and supplies. Place everything the sitter will need in one place, including food and treats (including a can opener, utensil to mix food, and scoop to measure dry food), medications (with clearly written instructions), leash and collar/harness, paper towels and cleaning supplies, broom/dust pan or vacuum cleaner, plastic bags for waste disposal, litter and scooper, etc. Review any special instructions you want your sitter to perform. 
  4. Thermostat. Make sure the thermostat is set at a comfortable temperature for your pet, and leave instructions on how to adjust the temperature in case of a power outage. 
  5. Pet-proof your home. Pets can be more inquisitive and bored when left alone, so put toilet lids down, close cupboards and closets, and store medications, small objects and household cleaners out of their reach. 
  6. Off-limit areas and access. Close off rooms where your pet is not allowed and let the sitter know they are off-limits. Close and lock doors—including garage and patio doors and windows—and use timers to control indoor lights so your pet’s day/night schedule is similar to when you are at home. Make sure gates and fences are closed and locked. 
  7. Visitor list. If you live in an apartment, advise security that your pet sitter will be visiting, and consider letting your neighbors know as well. If friends or family are checking on your house in your absence, let the sitter know, and clearly explain his or her responsibilities to avoid confusion. Also let the sitter know about gardeners, housekeepers or other providers who may also be on the premises in your absence. 
  8. Emergencies. Your sitter should know where to take your pet in case of an emergency. Notify your veterinarian of the sitter and authorize him or her to provide care in your absence. If your sitter must remove your pet from the premises, have a pet emergency kit and pet carrier available. Let your sitter know how you would like to get updates about your pet: via text, email or phone. iBi



Mad Women!
by Maggie Whalen Misselhorn, Simantel

Marketing has a problem that no amount of clever headlines or beautiful imagery can sell. Up until 2014, just three percent of creative directors at advertising agencies were female, and that number has grown to only 11 percent in recent months. Pair that knowledge with the fact that women account for 85 percent of all consumer purchases, and you have a major disconnect within the advertising industry.

Are we to assume that women are capable of buying, just not selling? Do we really believe that men can sell to women better than other women can?

It’s not that women aren’t working in the industry. An article in The New York Times shared that women far outnumber men in advertising agencies, accounting for 65.8 percent of the workforce. Being present in the workforce, however, doesn’t translate to having a voice or leverage in leadership positions—especially within creative departments.

So how about your business? Does your industry have a similar percentage problem? As one of the 11 percent, I feel it is important to continue to push for change. It’s time for our four-inch heels to bust through that glass ceiling so that capable people are put in leadership positions based on qualifications. Regardless of where we work, we should all strive to provide opportunities for all of our employees to grow, regardless of gender.

Unfortunately in the advertising industry, the days of Mad Men are not yet behind us. But just as the Don Draper two-martini lunch doesn’t work today, neither does this talent gap at the top. You know the saying: “Don’t get mad, get even.” I proudly state that I am one Mad Woman looking to get even… I would settle for 50 percent. iBi

Maggie Whalen Misselhorn is vice president and executive creative director at Simantel, a creative and strategic marketing firm headquartered in Peoria. For more information, visit


Pregnant? Protect Yourself from Discrimination
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act makes it unlawful for an employer with 15 or more employees to discriminate on the basis of pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition. Federal law also makes it illegal to discriminate against pregnant women, or those with children, based on stereotypes. For instance, an employer couldn’t decide not to give a job which requires a lot of travel to a pregnant woman based on the logic that “women with young children should be at home.”

Women whose pregnancies result in health problems may be protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Similarly, it is unlawful to retaliate against a woman for taking time off under the Family and Medical Leave Act, which applies to employers with 50 or more employees.

Tom Spiggle, founder of the Spiggle Law Firm and author of You’re Pregnant? You’re Fired! Protecting Mothers, Fathers, and Other Caregivers in the Workplace, recommends taking certain steps to minimize your chances of being discriminated against at work for being pregnant:

  1. Don’t wait too long to tell your employer. If you are fired or demoted, you may be able to protect yourself with anti-discrimination laws. If your employer finds out you are pregnant before you announce it and fires you, they may be able to claim ignorance, even if the real reason for your termination is your pregnancy.
  2. If you believe your employer is discriminating against you, report it in writing to human resources or your boss. If your employer has 15 or more employees, you may be protected by anti-retaliation law.
  3. If you are fired or demoted, ask why. Ideally, get it in writing. See if the reason makes sense. For instance, if your employer claims your position has been eliminated, and then hires someone else, that looks a lot like pregnancy discrimination.
  4. Even if you do not plan to ask for changes at work, make sure your boss or supervisor knows about health-related issues from which you suffer. This way, you may be protected if your employer later tries to fire or demote you.
  5. If you are having a difficult pregnancy, discuss with your doctor how this is affecting you at work. If your employer has 15 or more employees, you may be entitled to ask for changes in the workplace—called “reasonable accommodations”—including more frequent breaks, lifting restrictions and time away from work for medical care. It’s important that any request for accommodation be grounded in specifically how pregnancy is affecting your body. Ideally, your doctor can provide a letter explaining the issue to your employer. iBi

For more information, visit


Gender Gaps in the Car Shopping Experience
When it comes to car shopping, women are driven by features—engaging in extensive research to find the best fit—while many men are revved about a particular car brand from the outset, according to a study released in October by Kelley Blue Book (, the only vehicle information source trusted and relied upon by both consumers and the automotive industry.

One in five men know the exact vehicle they want, while women are twice as likely to be undecided, the study revealed. In addition, 58 percent of men are confident in the car-buying arena, versus 38 percent of women. As a result, women take longer to make a purchase—a median of 75 days, compared with men’s 63 days—because they spend more time doing research in an effort to build confidence and knowledge.

“What we can glean from this research,” says Hwei-Lin Oetken, vice president of market intelligence for Kelley Blue Book’s, “is that we need to continue our focus on providing the proper tools and content to help shoppers narrow down choices, therefore bringing balance and filling gender gaps in the car shopping experience.” The study also revealed:



Women-Owned Firms on the Rise
There are now 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., according to the 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express OPEN—up 68 percent since 1997. These firms generate over $1.4 trillion in revenue and employ more than 7.8 million people. Women-owned firms now lead growth in eight of the top 13 industries, including real estate, finance/insurance and wholesale trade. Illinois has an estimated 388,700 women-owned firms, attributing to roughly $57.9 billion in revenue. The state ranks 17th in firm growth and 48th in growth of firm revenue over the past 17 years.

Crazy Times in the Art World
The market for modern art is outlandish and irrational, according to a recent BusinessWeek article. On November 12, 2013, a triptych by Francis Bacon sold for $142.4 million—the most expensive artwork ever sold at an auction. The same evening, Jeff Koons’ Balloon Dog (Orange) sculpture sold for $58.4 million, a record for a living artist, and Apocalypse Now, a 1988 painting by Christopher Wool, went for $26.4 million—an appreciation of 350,000 percent in 25 years. Contemporary art sales have increased 33 percent in the last year alone—and 1,078 percent over the last decade.

Better Days for Growth
More than eight in 10 Illinois entrepreneurs are confident they can access the capital they need to build their business, and 60 percent maintain a positive outlook for their business prospects over the next six months—up from 56 percent this spring, according to the American Express OPEN Small Business Monitor, released in late October. Forty-four percent of Illinois businesses plan to hire within the next six months and 63 percent plan to make capital investments in the next six months, up significantly from this spring and last fall. iBi