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Washington girds for health care vote. The passage of President Obama's health care plan looks increasingly likely, with a vote possible over the weekend. Most of the coverage has focused on the big picture, particularly a report by the Congressional Budget Office that says the bill will lower the deficit by $138 billion over 10 years, while insuring an additional 32 million Americans. So what would passage mean for businesses? For small companies, probably not much. But companies with over 50 employees that do not provide health care coverage would have to pay $2,000 for every employee who receives insurance that is subsidized by the government.

RIP Fess Parker: Actor turned wine entrepreneur. A generation of baby-boomers may best remember Fess Parker as the man who played Davy Crockett in a series of 1950's-era Disney movies. But after the cameras stopped rolling, Parker went on to become a successful California winery owner and hotel developer. Born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1924, Parker served in the Navy in World War II before moving to Hollywood where he would earn his fame as Crocket and TV's Daniel Boone. In 1986, with money made from acting, Parker bought 32 acres of prime Santa Barbara waterfront property and opened Fess Parker's Red Lion Resort, a successful hotel. From there, Parker went on to develop the Fess Parker Winery & Vineyards, a medal-winning winery whose bottles were emblazoned with, what else, a tiny coonskin cap. His real estate career was not without controversy, however. A proposed deal in 2004 to sell 745 acres of Santa Ynez Valley land to the Chumash Indian tribe angered some local residents who feared the area was being overdeveloped. Parker passed away Thursday at the age of 85.

The neuroscience of marketing. We've already given you a peak inside the entrepreneur's brain, recently a group of scientists and ad execs at SXSW explained how neuromarketing, or measuring consumers' brain activity in response to products, could give you an extra edge (via CNN Money). The bad news is that companies who can afford this type of research tend to have ad budgets of between $30 million and $100 million, but the upside is that companies with smaller budgets have increasingly been making use of these tools. Just how beneficial is neuromarketing? "Who would have thought that people would buy pet rocks?" says Gary Koepke, the co-founder of Boston, Massachusetts-based ad agency Modernista. "The Snuggie? I don't know if neuromarketing would have figured that out. There's a lot of things up for grabs in this world yet." 

How to craft a maternity-leave policy. For most start-up business owners, developing a policy for female employees who are expecting isn't always top of mind. But, as The Wall Street Journal explains, "by taking the time to carefully research legal obligations, insurance options and other key issues early on, entrepreneurs may be able to avoid making costly mistakes." 

So you have Facebook fans. Now what? You've heard the buzz, read our guide to getting customers through Facebook, and now your company officially has fans. But what is the best way to interact with them? Mashable has these four suggestions: ask their opinion, test their knowledge, pair promotions with content, or thank them.

Using gaming to motivate employees. Anyone who has seen the episode of The Office where the Stamford branch immerses itself in a game of "Call of Duty" knows the effect gaming can have on employee engagement. In fact, Indiana University professor Lee Sheldon tellsiT News that game design techniques like well-defined goals and fair, incremental rewards can motivate the 'gamer generation' among your staff. Sheldon has been testing out this theory on his own students by replacing the traditional grading system with "experience points (XP)" which were used to track progress in role-playing games. Like World of Warcraft, students were divided into guilds and they picked up XP by completing assignments. As a result, students responded with far more enthusiasm. "It will be up to management, often of the pre-gamer generations, to figure out how to educate themselves to the gamer culture, and how to speak it most effectively." (Hat tip, peHUB)

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Last updated: Mar 19, 2010




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