Imagine if you could get free money by giving away free money to business owners who don’t even know about this program or they heard about it, but they thought they weren’t qualified. (Because they originally were not. But now they are. But nobody has told them they are!)
All you need to do is tell them about it and get them to fill in a 9 field web page. We’ll do the rest. And you pocket the commission. And because you’re helping small businesses not leave money on the table – They’re going to love you.
The first step in creating a winning client proposal is to understand your client’s needs. Take the time to research your client’s business, their pain points, and their goals. When it comes to client proposals, less is often more. Keep your proposal concise and clear, focusing on the key points that will resonate with your client.
Pricing is a critical factor in any client proposal, and it is essential to provide a clear and transparent pricing structure. Be upfront about your pricing, including any additional costs or fees that may apply. Clearly articulate the benefits of working with your business, and how you can help solve your client’s problems and achieve their goals. This will help differentiate your proposal from competitors.
After submitting your proposal, it’s important to follow up with your client and stay engaged throughout the decision-making process. This can help you address any additional concerns or objections that may arise and increase the likelihood of a successful deal.
Recently promoted to her outgoing manager’s job, Rhianna often compares herself to her new peers — five women she looks up to. She wonders if she belongs in this room of senior executives, but there is no doubt in her manager’s mind about her qualifications. Rhianna has a PhD, has won awards in her field, has built a strong team, and is loved by her clients. Nevertheless, she is filled with self-doubt. When left unchecked, her thoughts devolve into demons of imaginary disasters.
Recently, Rhianna suggested a new idea during a leadership team meeting. No one responded. The conversation moved on. But Rhianna remained stuck in place, telling herself she wasn’t smart enough, her idea was insipid, and wasn’t this the case with all her contributions? They weren’t interesting or strategic enough to impress her colleagues. Such thoughts made her remain silent for the rest of the meeting and hesitant to speak up thereafter.
Many of my clients — successful executives in positions of authority — mask their inner scripts of doubt and fear. Their internal lashing is often the result of being overly calibrated to others’ reactions or too frequently comparing themselves to what they see of others. As a result, they edit their contributions, robbing themselves and the team of ideas and hiding their true feelings, which fester into further doubts and resentment.
Self-doubt can afflict anyone. Successful strategies to confront it need to help no matter the cause or context. On the basis of my work with Rhianna and other clients, I’ve identified four strategic ways to sidestep self-doubt in the moment and make your contributions count in meetings.
Claim space with an announcement. It’s easy to go unnoticed when everyone is excited about a topic. Owing to her natural diffidence, Rhianna would start speaking either too softly or too fast and lose her audience before she completed the first sentence. To avoid that pitfall, announce your contribution before launching into your subject. For example, you might ask, “Can we pause to look at this from the customer’s perspective?”
“Let’s step back and take a longer-term view of these metrics,” or “How might we think differently about our actions if we viewed them in the context of market microtrends?” We create a drumroll by first announcing what we’re going to cover – it turns people’s attention our way, and they don’t miss the initial sentences of our idea. By framing the concept, we not only claim space for our contribution but also help focus the discussion.
Name your idea. Before sharing your thoughts, give your point of view a name. Because she wasn’t convinced of her own value, Rhianna shied away from taking up space; her body language, infrequency of speaking up, and paucity of words when she did made her blend into the background. Rhianna has since adopted techniques to name her thoughts, such as reviewing meeting notes for patterns. She looks for underlying themes and tries to come up with an acronym or find a wordplay on a common phrase.
During a recent meeting, phrases like “North America only,” “cultural blindness,” and “high-growth markets” allowed her to name her underlying idea “ROW together,” standing for “Rest of the world together.” Use the name to anchor yourself — or if you want to, share it. Speak it out loud, and for wordplay like “ROW together,” present it with a little humor to alleviate your tenseness. It’s not always easy to do on the spot, but naming your thought will define it better, give it more weight, and allow it to take up more space.
Explain your idea. Articulate only the skeleton of your proposal once you have announced and named it. Like a frame around a painting, this focuses your audience’s attention where you want it. Then, as you flesh out the thought, explain why it is important, and why now. Every idea vies with our calendars. Amid busy schedules, why should we care about this topic?
One of Rhianna’s ideas that she had not yet articulated related to the return to a hybrid work environment. Her company is debating various options, and her contribution, if acted on immediately, would address a common employee concern. Without a sense of timeliness, expect a polite golf clap but no momentum. When your audience is convinced that they need to act now, your suggestion will receive more attention.
Entertain feedback. When we doubt ourselves, we yield to our colleagues’ cues if they don’t follow up on what we’ve said. That was certainly true of Rhianna. The lack of response from others confirmed her worst fears: that her suggestions weren’t interesting and she wasn’t smart enough.
Before you relinquish the floor, offer a hook to involve others. Explicitly ask for feedback with questions like, “How many of you feel this way?” “What are your thoughts on this topic?” or “What stands out to you?” When you issue an invitation with an open-ended question, others can pause to appreciate and think more deeply about what you just shared.
As Rhianna has practiced these strategies, she’s been surprised. Even before examining her underlying fears more deeply, she says she’s found her voice. She’s no longer afraid to propose ideas and speak up in meetings and finds greater success when she does. By implementing techniques to land her perspectives, she’s found first-hand evidence that it wasn’t her ideas that lacked stickiness; it was her delivery, shaded by her self-confidence.
After altering how she presented her thoughts, she gained greater purchase on self-worth. Once colleagues adopted her proposals, she naturally adopted a more confident stance. When we doubt our own minds, digging deeper inside exposes more of the same faulty logic. By taking external action, we can liberate ourselves from the web of self-castigation and clear space for our creativity and that of our audience.
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The nervous and immune systems are tightly intertwined. Deciphering their chatter might help address many brain disorders and diseases.The brain is the body’s sovereign, and receives protection in keeping with its high status. Its cells are long-lived and shelter inside a fearsome fortification called the blood–brain barrier. For a long time, scientists thought that the brain was completely cut off from the chaos of the rest of the body — especially its eager defence system, a mass of immune cells that battle infections and whose actions could threaten a ruler caught in the crossfire.
In the past decade, however, scientists have discovered that the job of protecting the brain isn’t as straightforward as they thought. They’ve learnt that its fortifications have gateways and gaps, and that its borders are bustling with active immune cells.
A large body of evidence now shows that the brain and the immune system are tightly intertwined. Scientists already knew that the brain had its own resident immune cells, called microglia; recent discoveries are painting more-detailed pictures of their functions and revealing the characteristics of the other immune warriors housed in the regions around the brain. Some of these cells come from elsewhere in the body; others are produced locally, in the bone marrow of the skull.
By studying these immune cells and mapping out how they interact with the brain, researchers are discovering that they play an important part in both healthy and diseased or damaged brains. Interest in the field has exploded: there were fewer than 2,000 papers per year on the subject in 2010, swelling to more than 10,000 per year in 2021, and researchers have made several major findings in the past few years.
No longer do scientists consider the brain to be a special, sealed-off zone. “This whole idea of immune privilege is quite outdated now,” says Kiavash Movahedi, a neuroimmunologist at the Free University of Brussels (VUB). Although the brain is still seen as immunologically unique — its barriers prevent immune cells from coming and going at will — it’s clear that the brain and immune system constantly interact, he adds (see ‘The brain’s immune defences’).
This shift in attitude is widespread in the community, says Leonardo Tonelli, chief of the neuroendocrinology and neuroimmunology programme at the US National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. In his experience, almost every neuroscientist who reviews grant proposals for the agency accepts the connection, he says, although many still need to catch up with the latest discoveries in neuroimmunology, which have started to reveal the underlying mechanisms.
The rush to understand how the brain and immune system knit together has prompted a wealth of questions, says Tony Wyss-Coray, a neuroimmunologist at Stanford University in California. “How important is this in normal brain function or disease? That is a very hard question to answer.”
More than two decades ago, when neuroimmunologist Michal Schwartz had just set up her laboratory at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, she couldn’t stop asking herself an unpopular question: could it really be true that the brain is completely cut off from immune protection? “It was completely axiomatic that the brain cannot tolerate any immune activity — everyone thought that if you have any immune activation, this was a sign of pathology,” she says. “But it didn’t make sense that tissue that is so indispensable, like the brain, cannot enjoy the benefit of being assisted by the immune system.”
The idea that the brain was off limits to the immune system took root decades earlier. In the 1920s, the Japanese scientist Y. Shirai reported that when tumour cells were implanted in a rat’s body, the immune response destroyed them, but when placed in the brain, they survived — indicating a feeble or absent immune response. Similar findings followed in the 1940s.
Most scientists also thought that the brain lacked a system for ferrying immune molecules in and out — the lymphatic drainage system that exists elsewhere in the body — even though such a system was first described in the brain more than two centuries ago. The prevailing view, then, was that the brain and the immune system lived largely separate lives. The two were thought to collide only under hostile circumstances: when immune cells went rogue, attacking the body’s own cells in diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
So when, in the late 1990s, Schwartz and her team reported that after an acute injury to the central nervous system, two types of immune cells, macrophages and T cells, protected neurons from damage and supported their recovery, many scientists were sceptical. “Everyone told me, you’re absolutely wrong,” Schwartz recalls.
Since those early experiments, Schwartz’s team and others have amassed a large body of evidence showing that immune cells do, indeed, have a significant role in the brain, even in the absence of autoimmune disease. Researchers have shown, for example, that in mice engineered to lack an immune system, neurodegenerative diseases such as motor neuron disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) and Alzheimer’s disease seemed to progress more rapidly, whereas restoring the immune system slowed their progression. Scientists have also revealed a potential role for microglia in Alzheimer’s disease.
More recently, scientists have shown that immune cells at the brain’s edges are active in neurodegenerative diseases. After examining the cerebrospinal fluid of people with Alzheimer’s, Wyss-Coray and his colleagues found evidence of a rise in numbers of T cells in the brain’s fluid-filled borders5. The expansion of these immune-cell populations suggests that they might have a role in the disease, Wyss-Coray says.
But whether immune cells hurt or help the brain is an open question. In their studies of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders, Wyss-Coray and his colleagues suggest that the immune system could be damaging neurons by releasing molecules that boost inflammation and trigger cell death. Others have suggested that T cells and other immune cells could instead be protective. For example, Schwartz’s group has reported6 that in mouse models of Alzheimer’s, boosting the immune response leads to a clearance of amyloid plaques — a pathological hallmark of the disease — and improves cognitive performance.
It’s now becoming clear that the brain’s margins are immunologically diverse: almost any type of immune cell in the body can also be found in the area surrounding the brain. The meninges — the fluid-filled membranes that wrap the brain — are an “immunological wonderland”, says Movahedi, whose work focuses on macrophages in the brain’s borders. “There’s so much happening out there.”
Some residents are exclusive to the frontiers. In 2021, Jonathan Kipnis, a neuroimmunologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, and his colleagues reported7 that there is a local source of immune cells: the bone marrow of the skull.
When they explored how the bone marrow mobilizes these cells, Kipnis and his colleagues demonstrated8 that, in response to an injury to the central nervous system or in the presence of a pathogen, signals carried in the cerebrospinal fluid were delivered to the skull bone marrow, prompting it to produce and release these cells (see ‘Private protectors’).
What role these locally produced immune cells have remains to be seen, but Kipnis’s group thinks that they might have a gentler role than immune cells from elsewhere in the body, regulating the immune response rather than being primed to fight. Kipnis says that this distinction, if true, has implications for treatment. In diseases such as multiple sclerosis, he says, symptoms could perhaps be improved by preventing immune cells from other parts of the body from coming in. By contrast, with a brain tumour, he adds, “you want the fighters”.
His team has also detected a network of channels that snake and branch over the surface of the brain, and which swarm with immune cells, forming the brain’s own lymphatic system9. These vessels, which sit in the outermost part of the meninges, give immune cells a vantage point near the brain from where they can monitor any signs of infection or injury.
In sickness and in health
As evidence builds for the involvement of immune cells during brain injury and disease, researchers have been exploring their function in healthy brains. “I think the most exciting part of neuroimmunology is that it’s relevant to so many different disorders and conditions and to normal physiology,” says Beth Stevens, a neuroscientist at Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts.
Many groups, including Stevens’s, have found microglia to be important to the brain’s development. These cells are involved in pruning neuronal connections, and studies suggest that problems in the pruning process might contribute to neurodevelopmental conditions.
Border immune cells, too, have been shown to be essential in healthy brains. Kipnis, Schwartz and their colleagues, for example, have shown that mice that lack some of these cells display problems in learning and social behaviour10. Others reported11 in 2020 that mice that develop without a specific population of T cells in both the brain and the rest of the body have defective microglia. Their microglia struggle to prune neuronal connections during development, leading to excessive numbers of synapses and abnormal behaviour. The authors propose that during this crucial period, T cells migrate into the brain and help microglia to mature.
One big mystery is how exactly immune cells — particularly those around the borders — talk to the brain. Although there is some evidence that they might occasionally cross into the organ, most studies so far suggest that these cells communicate by sending in molecular messengers known as cytokines. These, in turn, influence behaviour.
Researchers have been studying how cytokines affect behaviour for decades, finding, for example, that cytokines sent out by immune cells during infection can initiate ‘sickness behaviours’ such as increased sleep12. They have also shown in animal models that alterations in cytokines — induced by depleting them throughout the body or knocking out specific cytokine receptors on neurons — can lead to alterations in memory, learning and social behaviours13. How cytokines travel into the brain and exert their effects remains an area of active study.
Cytokines might also be a link between the immune system and neurodevelopmental conditions such as autism. When Gloria Choi, a neuroimmunologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, and her colleagues boosted cytokine levels in pregnant mice, they saw brain changes and autism-like behaviours in the offspring14.
Although these insights are tantalizing, much of the work on how immune cells, especially those in the borders, operate in the brain is still in its infancy. “We are very far away from understanding what’s happening in healthy brains,” Kipnis says.
A two-way street
Communication between the immune system and the brain also seems to go in the other direction: the brain can direct the immune system.
Some of these insights are decades old. In the 1970s, scientists conditioned rats to become immunosuppressed when they tasted saccharin, an artificial sweetener, by pairing it with an immunosuppressive drug for several days15.
In more recent work, Asya Rolls, a neuroimmunologist at Technion — Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, and her team explored the link between emotion, immunity and cancer in mice. They reported16 in 2018 that activating neurons in the ventral tegmental area, a brain region involved in positive emotions and motivation, boosted the immune response and, in turn, slowed tumour growth.
Then, in 2021, her group pinpointed neurons in the insular cortex — a part of the brain involved in processing emotion and bodily sensations, among other things — that were active during inflammation in the colon, a condition also known as colitis.
By activating these neurons artificially, the researchers were able to reawaken the intestinal immune response17. Just as Pavlov’s dogs learnt to associate the sound of a bell with food, causing the animals to salivate any time they heard the noise, these rodents’ neurons had captured a ‘memory’ of the immunological response that could be rebooted. “This showed that there is very intense crosstalk between neurons and immune cells,” says Movahedi, who wasn’t involved with this work.
Rolls suspects that organisms evolved such immunological ‘memories’ because they are advantageous, gearing up the immune system in situations when the body might meet pathogens. She adds that in certain cases, they can instead be maladaptive — when the body anticipates an infection and mounts an unnecessary immune response, causing collateral damage. This pathway might help to explain how psychological states can influence the immune response, providing a potential mechanism for many psychosomatic disorders, according to Rolls.
It could also inspire therapies. Rolls and her team found that blocking the activity of those inflammation-associated neurons lessened inflammation in mice with colitis. Her group hopes to translate these findings to humans, and is examining whether inhibiting activity using non-invasive brain stimulation can help to alleviate symptoms in people with Crohn’s disease and psoriasis — disorders that are mediated by the immune system. This work is in the early phases, Rolls says, “but it’ll be really cool if it works”.
Other groups are exploring how the brain controls the immune system. Choi’s team is tracing out the specific neurons and circuits that modulate the immune response. One day, she hopes to be able to generate a comprehensive map of the interactions between the brain and immune system, outlining the cells, circuits and molecular messengers responsible for the communication in both directions — and connecting those to behavioural or physiological readouts.
One of the biggest challenges now is to tease apart which populations of cells are involved in these myriad functions. To tackle it, some researchers have been probing how these cells differ at the molecular level, by sequencing genes in single cells. This has revealed a subset of microglia associated with neurodegenerative disease, for example. Understanding how these microglia function differently from their healthy counterparts will be useful in developing treatments, Stevens says. They could also be used as markers to track the progression of a disease or the efficacy of therapies, she adds.
Researchers have already begun using these insights into the immune ecosystem in and around the brain. Schwartz’s team, for example, is rejuvenating the immune system in the hope of fighting Alzheimer’s disease. This work has opened up new avenues for therapeutics, particularly for neurodegenerative conditions, Schwartz says. “It’s an exciting time in the history of brain research.”
Nearly 140 countries agreed Friday to the most sweeping overhaul of global tax rules in a century, a move that aims to curtail tax avoidance by multinational corporations and raise additional tax revenue of as much as $150 billion annually.
The reform sets out a global minimum corporate tax of 15%, targeted at preventing companies from exploiting low-tax jurisdictions.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the floor set by the global minimum tax was a victory for the U.S. and its ability to raise money from companies. She urged Congress to move swiftly to enact the international tax proposals it has been debating, which would help pay for extending the expanded child tax credit and climate-change initiatives, among other policies.
“International tax policy making is a complex issue, but the arcane language of today’s agreement belies how simple and sweeping the stakes are: when this deal is enacted, Americans will find the global economy a much easier place to land a job, earn a living, or scale a business,” Ms. Yellen said.
The agreement among 136 countries also seeks to address the challenges posed by companies, particularly technology giants, that register the intellectual property that drives their profits anywhere in the world. As a result, many of those countries established operations in low-tax countries such as Ireland to reduce their tax bills.
The final deal gained the backing of Ireland, Estonia and Hungary, three members of the European Union that withheld their support for a preliminary agreement in July. But Nigeria, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Pakistan continued to reject the deal.
The new agreement, if implemented, would divide existing tax revenues in a way that favors countries where customers are based. The biggest countries, as well as the low-tax jurisdictions, must implement the agreement in order for it to meaningfully reduce tax avoidance.
Overall, the OECD estimates the new rules could give governments around the world additional revenue of $150 billion annually.
The final deal is expected to receive the backing of leaders from the Group of 20 leading economies when they meet in Rome at the end of this month. Thereafter, the signatories will have to change their national laws and amend international treaties to put the overhaul into practice.
The signatories set 2023 as a target for implementation, which tax experts said was an ambitious goal. And while the agreement would likely survive the failure of a small economy to pass new laws, it would be greatly weakened if a large economy—such as the U.S.—were to fail.
“We are all relying on all the bigger countries being able to move at roughly the same pace together,” said Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. “Were any big economy not to find itself in a position to implement the agreement, that would matter for the other countries. But that might not become apparent for a while.”
Congress’ work on the deal will be divided into two phases. The first, this year, will be to change the minimum tax on U.S. companies’ foreign income that the U.S. approved in 2017. To comply with the agreement, Democrats intend to raise the rate—the House plan calls for 16.6%—and implement it on a country-by-country basis. Democrats can advance this on their own and they are trying to do so as part of President Biden’s broader policy agenda.
The second phase will be trickier, and the timing is less certain. That is where the U.S. would have to agree to the international deal changing the rules for where income is taxed. Many analysts say that would require a treaty, which would need a two-thirds vote in the Senate and thus some support from Republicans. Ms. Yellen has been more circumspect about the schedule and procedural details of the second phase.
Friction between European countries and the U.S. over the taxation of U.S. tech giants has threatened to trigger a trade war.
In long-running talks about new international tax rules, European officials have argued U.S. tech giants should pay more tax in Europe, and they fought for a system that would reallocate taxing rights on some digital products from countries where the product is produced to where it is consumed.
The U.S., however, resisted. A number of European governments introduced their own taxes on digital services. The U.S. then threatened to respond with new tariffs on imports from Europe.
The compromise was to reallocate taxing rights on all big companies that are above a certain profit threshold.
Under the agreement reached Friday, governments pledged not to introduce any new levies and said they would ultimately withdraw any that are in place. But the timetable for doing that has yet to be settled through bilateral discussions between the U.S. and those countries that have introduced the new levies.
Even though they will likely have to pay more tax after the overhaul, technology companies have long backed efforts to secure an international agreement, which they see as a way to avoid a chaotic network of national levies that threatened to tax the same profit multiple times.
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The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which has been guiding the tax talks, estimates that some $125 billion in existing tax revenues would be divided among countries in a new way.
Those new rules would be applied to companies with global turnover of €20 billion (about $23 billion) or more, and with a profit margin of 10% or more. That group is likely to include around 100 companies. Governments have agreed to reallocate the taxing rights to a quarter of the profits of each of those companies above 10%.
The agreement announced Friday specifies that its revenue and profitability thresholds for reallocating taxing rights could also apply to a part of a larger company if that segment is reported in its financial accounts. Such a provision would apply to Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud division, Amazon Web Services, even though Amazon as a whole isn’t profitable enough to qualify because of its low-margin e-commerce business.
The other part of the agreement sets a minimum tax rate of 15% on the profits made by large companies. Smaller companies, with revenues of less than $750 million, are exempted because they don’t typically have international operations and can’t therefore take advantage of the loopholes that big multinational companies have benefited from.
Low-tax countries such as Ireland will see an overall decline in revenues. Developing countries are least happy with the final deal, having pushed for both a higher minimum tax rate and the reallocation of a greater share of the profits of the largest companies.
—Sam Schechner in Paris contributed to this article.
See. Charles Edward Andrew Lincoln IV, Is Incorporation Really Better Than Central Management and Control for Testing Corporate Residency? An Answer to Corporate Tax Evasion and Inversion, 43 Ohio N.U.L. Rev. 359 (2017).