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Biz bits

By wire services
Published January 23, 2005

THE ROAD TO THE TOP in corporate America isn't what it used to be - and neither is the top. Harvard Business Review says "a dramatic shift in executive careers, and in executives themselves, has occurred over the past two decades." It compared profiles of top executives of Fortune 100 companies in 1980 and 2001. "Today's executives are younger, more of them are female, and fewer were educated at elite institutions," it said. "They're also making their way to the top more quickly. They're taking fewer jobs along the way, and they increasingly move from one company to the next as their careers unfold."

AMERICANS SPENT ALMOST a quarter-trillion dollars on home improvement last year. The market increased by more than 5 percent and is expected to continue growing at that rate the next few years, industry analysts say. Home remodeling projects feed on themselves, Harvard researcher Kermit Baker says. "One of the best indicators of a homeowner doing another home improvement project is they have recently done one," he said. That's because those fixup jobs often make other areas of the home "look a lot worse."

SHAKING HANDS often is done with little thought. But a handshake can tell people many different aspects about you, according to The Power of Handshaking by Robert Brown and Dorothea Johnson. The book offers a few tips, including to engage the full hand. Touch palms, firmly but not to a crushing degree. And pause. This is "the key ingredient of a successful handshake," Brown and Johnson write. Focus on this moment, and be the last party to end the shake.

SHOULD YOU be putting money in savings or investments at the same time you're paying off a loan? The answer isn't always obvious, says. It says the best answer lies in separating good debt from bad debt. It's almost always a good idea to get rid of credit card and other high-interest loans before you start setting aside cash, says. However, you probably don't want to accelerate mortgage or student loans at the expense of saving for retirement.

IF YOU'VE NOTICED an increase in ads for diamonds, it's no accident. Bloomberg Markets says the giant De Beers organization "has shifted its focus from controlling the world's diamond supply to portraying diamonds as the ultimate gift of love." And diamond prices are at a 20-year high and destined to go higher, Bloomberg Markets says.

Compiled from Times wires and Web sites.

[Last modified January 23, 2005, 00:13:14]

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