For our weekend business and political readers.

HOW GREAT BUSINESS IDEAS ARE SPAWNED
Like most things, it’s different for different folks, but The Wall Street Journal in a recent post went deeper to find out more about the intitial spark that takes entrepreneurs to success.

To find out, we turned to the experts—the startup mentors who discuss launching businesses at our Accelerators blog, as well as other investors, advisers and professors who have seen and heard countless success stories, and entrepreneurs who have written success stories of their own. They saw inspiration coming from all sorts of sources—everyday puzzles, driving passions and the subconscious mind.

Find out what those experts had to say and how they came up with their great ideas by clicking on this link.

GETTING THE MOST FROM A COLLEGE MAJOR
It takes a long time and tuition is expensive. So when a college student finally graduates and starts a career, which majors will pay off the most? The Wall Street Journal wondered the same thing and has put together a list of the top 10 starting salaries for majors.

While college majors may seem irrelevant to employers who mainly want to hire young people who can think critically and communicate well, that doesn’t mean all majors are created equal.

The average starting salary for a member of the class of 2013 is $44,928, up 5.3% from the previous year, driven by big gains in fields such as health sciences and business.

But how much more can a graduate make if one of the top 10 majors is chosen?  Click here to find out.

FORD IS BUILDING BETTER CARS THROUGH DATA
The more driving data Ford Motor Company can collect from its finished cars, the better product it can provide for consumers in the future. Sounds simple right? But how do you collect that data especially if it invades privacy and if consumers aren’t used?  What is the best approach in the lab that would equate to normal driving habits?

The test cars in Ford’s research labs are collecting about 250 gigabytes of data per hour from high-resolution cameras and an array of sensors, and the company is trying to find out what data is most useful and how it might be rolled into production vehicles.

And what about social media as a data collecting tool?

Of course, sometimes the best data isn’t the stuff you see, but the stuff that just makes your car better. Ford analyzes a lot of social media and other external data in order to figure out, for example, what customers are saying about their vehicles compared with other makes and what problems they’re having.

Go inside the full story at this link from the Washington Post to learn more about how Ford mines data to make your ride more pleasurable.

HOW TO MEASURE YOUR ROI FROM SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
Return on investment from your social media is often measured in “old school” terms, reports SocialMediaToday. Why?

Unfortunately, traditional marketing metrics still focus doggedly on cash generated per dollars spent. Old school thinking.

So what’s the modern approach to focus on the right social media ROI?  SocialMediaToday has expert advise and formulas for calculating different scenarios at this link.

JUST JOKING
There was a lot of that going on recently at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Conan O’Brien served as guest comedian, but President Obama came back with his own salvo of funny lines and Marketplace was impressed..

Despite the country’s continued economic woes, it was good to see that the President hasn’t made any major cuts to his humor budget.

Marketplace has picked its favorite funny lines from the evening that mostly involve money. Here’s a taste from the president:

“I know Republicans are still sorting out what happened in 2012, but one thing they all agree on is they need to do a better job reaching out to minorities. And look, call me self-centered, but I can think of one minority they could start with. Hello!” the President said.

For the rest of Marketplace’s favorites, humor yourself and go to this link.

GETTING THE WHITE HOUSE’S ATTENTION
Would you pay millions of dollars for a TV ad just to get your message in front of the President of the United States? Or would you seek a more cost-effective strategy?

Marketplace looks at how lobbyists work to gain White House access and influence.

“Trying to get your message directly across to the president without going through the layers and layers that have been created in order to filter and limit his access to information is a monumental task, and probably involves a certain amount of luck,” said Andy Rosenberg, a principal with Thorn Run Partners.

While visiting with members of Capitol Hill is a much easier process, the leader of the free world is a much harder sell. Read more advice from the experts here.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: GROUND ZERO FOR GUN CONTROL
With first-term Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte’s vote against expanded background checks for gun sales, a wave of controversy has swept across this tiny New England state. Politico says Ayotte is “now stuck at the center of the fight.” And a lot of it came to head during a recent New Hampshire town hall meeting hosted by the Senator.

The emotional fight threatens to transform Ayotte — a young conservative Republican woman whose star is on the rise — into a polarizing figure back home on a contentious issue. Instead of taking up the banner of gun rights, Ayotte is seeking a lower profile on the subject in a state where she’s become the last Republican in the all-female congressional delegation.

How bad has it hurt her, and how is the NRA weighing-in on all of this?  Why would Ayotte vote against it despite polls in New Hampshire showing extremely strong support for expanded background checks?  And how might this play out among independents, especially female independents?  Politico has the complete story and commentary from several sources at this link.

KAREEM DISHES ADVICE TO 20-SOMETHINGS
Legendary pro basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar reveals advice he wished he’d followed when he was a much younger man. Having accomplished many of his professional goals before the age of 30, Abdul-Jabbar makes a list of 20 mulligans he’d like to do over if he had a second chance in this Esquire magazine piece.

Here is one sample:

Watch more TV – Yeah, you heard right, Little Kareem. It’s great that you always have your nose in history books. That’s made you more knowledgeable about your past and it has put the present in context. But pop culture is history in the making and watching some of the popular shows of each era reveals a lot about the average person, while history books often dwell on the powerful people.

It’s an interesting read. You can check out full access at this link.

DESIGN YOUR CORE BUSINESS NETWORK TO BE STRONG AND TIGHT
Inc. says super-successful people know that “the wealthier you are, the fewer ‘best business friends’ you have.”

While there’s nothing wrong with counting 500 or 5,000 people in your online networks, the more important thing to do is to follow the example of the super-wealthy and design your core network to be tight, strong, and above all made up of just a few select people who will need you in order to reach each other.

Specifically, when asked to count how many people they closely network with in order to source new business, the average number was 4.8 for millionaires who have a net worth over $30 million and 5.7 for millionaires who have a net worth below $10 million. Ordinary middle-class people? They reported an average of nine close contacts. That’s right. The people at the lowest level of financial success counted the highest number of close networking contacts.

Inc. says the reason for that is simple. Both that answer, and specific tips on how to keep your core business network super-tight are revealed at this link.

BE STYLISH IN ECO-FRIENDLY GREEN FASHION
USA Today says “America’s closets are turning green.”

The same environmental sensibilities that have swept the foodie world (farm-to-table, organic produce) are making inroads in the fashion universe as the environmental movement continues its rise and new technology produces refined synthetic and recycled materials.

USA Today has posted the latest scoop on green fashions and who is making them, as well as that all-important push from celebrities.

Actress Natalie Portman regularly wears vegan shoes, and designer Stella McCartney has become synonymous with ethical fashion, rejecting fur and leather in her high-priced couture.

For the full story on how much the green fashion market has grown, particularly after it turned from “buralppy” to cute, go to this link.

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Talk Business Staff