Issue 5

heavenly-le-blanc

Heavenly Le Blanc

Blanketing the Caribbean coastline like a white flowing oasis of romantic luxury, Le Blanc Resort is an adult only, AAA 5 diamond haven that continues to exceed its client’s expectations.  Frequented by celebrities such as Shakira, Julia Roberts and even the former President George W. Bush; this all inclusive, all butler resort, with a 1 […]

Blanketing the Caribbean coastline like a white flowing oasis of romantic luxury, Le Blanc Resort is an adult only, AAA 5 diamond haven that continues to exceed its client’s expectations.  Frequented by celebrities such as Shakira, Julia Roberts and even the former President George W. Bush; this all inclusive, all butler resort, with a 1 hotel staff to 1 guest ratio, dispels any preconceived notions one might have of the uber touristy Cancun hotel strip.

Completely redesigned in 2005, Le Blanc was determined to change the perception travelers had of Cancun; known for spring breakers, cheap lodging and overcrowded beaches.  Developers set out to fill the enormous void of what the hotel strip was truly lacking and create a high end, adults only, all inclusive, luxury hotel.  Envision contemporary refinement and a South Beach flare combined with renowned dining and impeccable service.   Each of the 260 rooms, lavishly provide guests with a pillow menu, an aromatherapy menu, Jacuzzi and BVGALRI bath amenities plus 24 hour room service.

Those that yearn to experience utter relaxation can pamper themselves at the signature Le Blanc spa which offers over a dozen varieties of “spa suites”, including a golden spa suite which includes a hydro therapy tub, private shower and dressing area as well as a couple’s massage area.  Le Blanc prides itself on unique spa services which include; Shiatsu massage, underwater massage therapy, Hydro-reflexology and Aroma therapy. They even have a signature treatment that includes the 50-minute Steam-Vichy Rain Journey, featuring a soothing exfoliation, an aromatic body mask and a refreshing Vichy Rain shower.   With 5 international restaurants including French, Italian and Asian Specialties and incorporating haute cuisine, any misconceptions one might have that all-inclusive resorts provide a less palatable experience will vanish.   If you are looking to complement the perfect meal with a fine wine, Le Blanc’s trained and knowledgeable sommelier can assist you in selecting the perfect wine as an accompaniment to create a truly memorable culinary experience.  Even the most demanding wine connoisseur will be impressed by Le Blanc’s collection of wines which consists of dozens of whites and reds from all over the world including Argentina, Chile, Australia, Italy and France.

Le Blanc incorporates its prime location and turquoise water backdrop with 2 infinity pools that virtually melt into the Caribbean Sea.  The white decor and clean lines create an atmosphere of trendy sophistication which has propelled Le Blanc’s superb reputation as the “place to stay” for jet setters that may have turned their nose up to Cancun in the past.    Le Blanc’s director of sales, Ash Tembe, attributes its enormous success to their incredible value inclusive promotions, such as $1500 resort/spa/golf/excursion credits per room per 7 night stay, that have enticed visitors to experience this indulging property in a less than stellar economy.  As the hip hotel strip continues to evolve, Le Blanc has already firmly established itself as the 5 star luxury resort it initially aspired to be.

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Rosé Wine Comes of Age

One my favorite signs of summer is the arrival of the newest crop of crisp, dry refreshing rosé wines that start showing up in late winter and early spring. Practically a ritual in the cafés and Bistros from Paris to the Cote d’Azur, these quintessential summer wines initially met with some resistance here in the […]

One my favorite signs of summer is the arrival of the newest crop of crisp, dry refreshing rosé wines that start showing up in late winter and early spring. Practically a ritual in the cafés and Bistros from Paris to the Cote d’Azur, these quintessential summer wines initially met with some resistance here in the States, with memories of assorted “pop” wines from our youths, mostly sweet and often sparkly, leaving a bad taste behind.  Yet each year more and more wine lovers shed their fear of “drinking pink” and discover the beauty of these versatile summer wines, and today rosés are some of the best, and most popular, wines of the season.

Generally inexpensive, rosé wines are perfect companions to summer’s more casual entertaining and cuisine. They are great with all kinds of summer fare, and grilled tuna, snapper, chicken, salad niçoise, tapenades, grilled summer vegetables, olives and cured meats all work exceptionally well.  They are also great all on their own on a warm summer afternoon!

While there are several methods of production, rosé wines are basically made by leaving the juice of red grapes — almost all grapes, even red ones, have white juice — macerating on their skins just long enough to develop their signature pink hue rather than the multiple days or weeks for full bore red wines. The grapes are then pressed or the the juice is run off and they finish fermenting much like white wines. Another method, called saignee, (to bleed), is done by siphoning off some portion of red wine early on in the fermentation when it just has a faint hue, and vinifying it like a white wine. The juice, skins and grapes left behind continue on as a red wine for fermentation, except that it is now more concentrated by virtue of having less juice to skins, making for deeper fuller red, as well as the benefit of having a lovely fresh rosé. The third method, used mainly for inexpensive bulk rosé, is done by blending white and red wines together, with the notable exception of Rosé Champagne and a lovely Basque rosé called Txakoli that, among others, make beautiful wines with this method.

Somewhere between reds and whites, rosés are typically light to medium in body, crisp and wonderfully refreshing — with a trace of tannin from their red wine lineage. Contrary to popular belief, almost all are actually bone dry! Rosés can range in color from pale pink to brick/salmon to a light ruby red, and often offer flavors and aromas that range from raspberry and strawberry to citrus, melon and tropical fruits. Their individual styles are determined in large part by the grapes from which they are made and the regions where they are grown.

Today some of the very best are hard to find, selling out quickly after release. Domaine Tempier from Bandol, Vacheron Sancerre Rosé, Clos St. Magdeleine are all quite fleeting, gone as quickly as summer itself. Corsica has burst onto the scene with its beautiful Rosés from indigenous (and hard to pronounce) local grapes such as Sciaccarellu. And California Rosés have upped their game, with Sinskey’s Vin Gris of Pinot Noir and Bedrock’s Ode to Lulu, a wine inspired by Domaine Tempier and named in honor of Lulu Peyraud, two great examples. And the exquisite Rosé Champagnes from the top houses in France such as Krug and Dom Perignon can set you back hundreds of dollars per bottle.

While rosés don’t strictly have a season, they are more likely to be found in shops from early April through Labor Day and are generally best drunk young to capture their vibrant youthful freshness. A few exceptions include the rosé wines of Bandol that can be better with a little time in bottle, and those from Lopez de Heredia, who doesn’t even release them until they have many years of cask and bottle age. So this summer lose your fear of the pink and enjoy – but don’t wait! The selection tends to dwindle as the summer winds down and retailers begin to look to fall’s fuller bodied flavors.

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Cigar Review: Summer 2016

AVO Syncro Nicaragua Box-Pressed Robusto Dominican Republic     5.0” x 50     Medium-Full 92-Rated This is AVO’s first blend with Nicaraguan tobacco, and hopefully it isn’t their last. A delicious, medium-bodied stick with a seamless Ecuador Connecticut wrapper. The inclusion of Nicaraguan long-fillers adds a bold, flavorful kick. Cream, leather, cedar, and a satisfying red pepper combine […]

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AVO Syncro Nicaragua Box-Pressed Robusto

Dominican Republic     5.0” x 50     Medium-Full

92-Rated

This is AVO’s first blend with Nicaraguan tobacco, and hopefully it isn’t their last. A delicious, medium-bodied stick with a seamless Ecuador Connecticut wrapper. The inclusion of Nicaraguan long-fillers adds a bold, flavorful kick. Cream, leather, cedar, and a satisfying red pepper combine to keep things interesting down to the nub. Pairs well with a dark rum.

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H. Upmann Media Noche Toro

Dominican Republic     6.0” x 54     Medium

93-Rated

Smooth and satisfying. The draw is easy, without being loose. Every puff of this Pennsylvania Broadleaf Maduro-wrapped cigar delivers waves of rich flavor. Dark espresso, leather, oak, and a natural tobacco sweetness are all prominent.  In addition, a thick cloud of smoke accompanies every draw, completing this a chewy, complexity-dense experience.  The finish is long, revealing a hickory, smoky-sweet flavor.

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Macanudo Gold Label Lord Nelson (Churchill)

Dominican Republic     7.0” x 49     Mild

91-Rated

A real beauty to look at for any cigar lover. The Connecticut wrapper is silky-smooth, and perfectly complements the gold on the primary and secondary bands. The marriage of Cuban-seed Dominican and Mexican long-fillers consistently delivers a mixture of citrus, lemon sweetness and a cedary trace of pepper. Every inch of this Churchill burn cool, making Mac Gold the perfect companion to a mellow Sunday afternoon.

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Man O’ War Armada Gordo

Nicaragua     6.5” x 56     Full

95-Rate

An absolute eruption of flavors from the get-go. Many cigars promise complexity, but Armada delivers in spades. This chunky 56-ring vitola employs a dark and oily Ecuador Sumatra wrapper, cloaking an aged mixture of Nicaraguan long-fillers. Expect a rich caramel sweetness to start, backed by bitter dark espresso note. The cigar crescendos into bold hints of earth, vanilla, coffee, and black pepper spices.

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Punch Signature Torpedo

Honduras     5.8” x 52     Full

93-Rated

Cloaked in a reddish-brown Corojo wrapper, Punch Signature is an elegant blend. The Dominican and Nicaraguan long-fillers are rare and refined, while the Torpedo shape brings out red pepper and sweet spices. Throughout the burn, a tasty combo of soft floral flavors mingle with thick molasses and roasted nuts. The finish is all spice with some oak on the exhale. Dee-lish.

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Ideology & Intelligence: A Recipe for Disaster

Part II Read Part I of Scott Uehlinger’s Ideology & Intelligence in the Spring 2016 issue of Network Magazine The homily “One Sees What One Wants to See” is true; humans are guilty of these behaviors in their business or personal lives.  Some Cognitive Dissonance is inevitable – we are human, after all – but we […]

Part II

Read Part I of Scott Uehlinger’s Ideology & Intelligence in the Spring 2016 issue of Network Magazine

The homily “One Sees What One Wants to See” is true; humans are guilty of these behaviors in their business or personal lives.  Some Cognitive Dissonance is inevitable – we are human, after all – but we must train ourselves and cast our institutions in a way to mitigate this tendency.

Examples of cognitive dissonance are numerous in the business world.  Large, successful companies are often slow to recognize a threat to their way of doing business – and their lack of adaptation or flexibility can be costly.  Leading executives settled in their thinking, which were unwilling to change and adapt to a morphing marketplace.

The Kodak Corporation, a one-time colossus that revolutionized the photography industry, ignored the threat of digital photography until the eleventh hour; too late to save the company.  Similarly, Blockbuster Video was once approached by Netflix for a strategic partnership – and Netflix was rebuffed with a laugh.

There are even more tragic examples in the pages of history.  Perhaps the most infamous was that despite receiving more than a dozen separate warnings from several sources that Hitler’s Nazi Germany was planning a massive betrayal and invasion of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin refused to believe it. This lead to the absolute carnage of Operation Barbarossa almost knocking the Soviet Union out of the war within 6 months.  Despite fighting the 1967 War, the State of Israel went deeply into denial about the threats it faced.

The result was total strategic surprise during the 1973 Yom Kippur War.  Had it not been for the sacrifice of their military, Israel would have been overwhelmed. British Intelligence, due to class bias, ignored early warning signs that they were being dangerously compromised by Soviet agent penetrations until the full-on spy scandals of the 1960s (The Cambridge Five) engulfed them.

The reason why Mirror Imaging and Perception Bias/Cognitive Dissonance have leaded to countless Intelligence Failure that cut across centuries and cultures is because these behaviors are fundamental human flaws.    It is no coincidence, however, that the most serious intelligence failures, particularly those in terms of human life have been those involving dictatorships and totalitarian regimes. The inherent logic of “Don’t displease Caesar/Mao/Stalin/Hitler” is clear.  Regarding intel failures in liberal democracies such as The United States, Britain and Israel, the Intel Failure problem occurs more often when the leadership is chained to a narrative or an ideology of its own.

To understand this problem as it exists today, let us first start with a look at the Soviet Union. Throughout the “Spy Wars” of the Cold War period, Soviet Intel more often than not, came out on top. (They did, after all, steal the plans for the A-Bomb from the West.)  As far as stealing technology and disinformation operations were concerned, Soviet Intelligence was deadly effective.

Despite this, the Soviets were poor at analyzing the more prosaic political, economic and military intelligence they collected. The Soviets continually misinterpreted, misunderstood or drew poor conclusions from their information.

Why?

The primary reason the Soviets were poor at analysis was because the Soviet Union and its leadership were ideologically biased.  The foundation of the Soviet Union was predicated on a single ideology – Marxism/Communism.  This meant that their intelligence service was attached to an ideologically-driven totalitarian state.  Therefore, oftentimes
Reality had to be reshaped to conform to the narrative.

Ideologies (any ideology) are totalitarian in nature because their essence is to take a philosophy and say that on the basis of it (in this case Marxism-Communism), certain things must be true.  In the Soviet’s case, their worldview was that (1) capitalism was evil, (2) militarily expansionist by nature and (3) dedicated to the perpetual exploitation of the masses.  Stalin was convinced that the West was bent on dominating the world and consistently underestimated the importance of public opinion to Western leaders.  Of course, he was mirror-imaging.  As an absolute dictator, Stalin could not believe the West had actual functioning democracies.

Since reality clearly was at odds with the world view of Soviet ideology, reality had to be forbidden. Unfortunately for Russians, this extended to not just the intel world, but Soviet society as a whole. Soviet Intel was not only afraid to give information to their leadership that went against the narrative but Soviet citizens were daily victims of cognitive dissonance as well.  The public was afraid to lend a voice to the obvious and were forced to chant catchphrases they knew were lies.  Soviet citizens used to joke
“In the Soviet Union, the future is known; it is the past that is always changing.”
The term “Political Correctness” is in fact a Soviet term (politicheskaya pravil’nost’).  A Soviet had to be politically correct, to stick to the party line, lest he run afoul of the authorities.

Which Brings us to the West…

There are increasing parallels between modern US/Western society and the Soviet society I studied and live in for much of my life.  Firstly, the Soviet “disease” of Political Correctness is alive and well in the United States. It has taken root in our culture and in the Intelligence Community as well.

For example, when was the last time the reader stopped himself/herself from saying something they knew to be true, for fear of being punished or criticized for saying it?

That’s not just a talking point – it is a central problem with our national conversation and it is adversely affecting the efficiency of our intelligence agencies and government.

Due to this sometimes hostile current environment, I believe there has been a steady decrease in the effectiveness of the US Intelligence Community.  We can say the same about other Government Agencies.  The Secret Service, FBI, NSA, Border Patrol and the IRS have all seen recent scandals and have earned the increased ire of the American people.

Americans are losing faith in these institutions. Congress, of course, continues to scrape the bottom of the barrel in terms of popularity – but even the military is seeing a decrease in favorability as it tows the PC line.  According to recent numerous surveys, the morale of our service members is also suffering, largely due to the prevalence of PC and its affect across the board.   What we also see is that our intelligence community and even our military, is increasingly being surprised and bamboozled by events – or just plain not listened to by our policymakers.

Why?

The answer is simple; because never before in the history of this country has there been a more ideologically driven, willfully blind Administration as the one we have today.  Locked inside the narrative to which they are bound, the mistakes of this Administration are a litany of repeated Mirror Imaging, Perception Bias, Willful Blindness, and thus, intelligence/policy failures.

All agencies have their own internal tensions and certainly the CIA has its share of Mirror Imaging, Perception Bias and Willful Blindness – but we must remember that government agencies march to the beat of the policymakers.  For the CIA, intelligence priorities are set by the Administration – and the CIA’s job is to advise the policymakers.  The CIA does not make policy; their marching orders always come from the Presidential Administration.

When an Administration is chained to an ideological narrative and is increasingly divorced from reality, is it surprising that it wishes not to receive intel information which presents any opposing view?  As with the Soviet Union and other failed regimes.

Reality must now be reshaped to conform to the narrative.

The complete and utter failure in all phases of US Foreign Policy is the bitter fruit of this Administration’s misguided, politically correct ideology.   Unfortunately, the American people will be paying for these errors long after the Obama Presidency ends.

This Administration has been unable to admit that ISIS is an Islamic Extremist organization and that it is, in fact, not a “JV Team”. There are 13 dead in San Bernardino and 137 dead in Paris who might disagree with the President’s assessment.   At the same time, this Administration openly encourages illegal immigration despite the fact that it has been proven that ISIS has (and certainly will in the future) use this channel to spearhead attacks on The United States.   How does this reckless disregard for the facts ensure US security?
Also emblematic of the administration’s Willful Blindness is that in 2015, US Special Operations Command (SOCOM) endured repeated complaints by its 40 Intel Analysts that their ISIS reporting was being regularly doctored due to an Administration hostile to their information.  The Army Inspector General’s report specifically mentioned a “Stalinist environment” that shut down accurate reporting and honest analysis.   Is this the multi-billion dollar intelligence community of which the American people can be proud? Perception Bias and Political Correctness resulted in an Administration moving headlong into a “Russian Reset”, which only served to empower a resurgent Putin to invade neighboring Ukraine, as well as reestablish a Russian foothold in the Middle East (which hasn’t existed in 25 years).  Putin detected US weakness and ever the pragmatist (and an ex-Intelligence Officer), took advantage of the situation. The US State Department, along with their equally hapless, politically correct Western European colleagues, was doubtlessly shocked by Russia’s actions.

Mirror Imaging also produced the most ominous foreign debacle of all; a nuclear “deal” with Iran.  A deal in which the US government releases $150 billion of frozen assets (frozen since 1979) as an “incentive” for Iran to curtail its ongoing nuclear weapons programs.  By way of expressing thanks, in January of 2016, Iran launched missiles that directly broke its signed UN missile agreements.

This Administration has also re-opened relations with Castro’s Cuba.  In honor of this event, Castro was emboldened to jail several hundred more dissidents against his tyrannical regime.

And so it goes.

Despots and America’s enemies rejoice over America’s feckless leadership; the results are increasing dangers to Americans worldwide. It is obvious that in this environment, virtually all intelligence reporting on the above threats has been disregarded (and common sense abandoned) as this administration undertakes actions that would have been considered inconceivable only a few years ago.   Unable to learn from its mistakes, the US foreign policy establishment leaps from debacle to debacle.

Like the trap that the Soviets, Maoist Chinese, North Koreans and others had historically fallen into this Administration seems to believe its own alternate reality.

“When we lack the will to see things as they really are, there is nothing so mystifying as the obvious.”

Irving Kristol

Any Presidential administration, sworn to uphold the nation’s laws and protect its security, owes it to the American people to view intelligence in the most clear-headed and pragmatic way possible; free from pre-conceived notions, ulterior motives or irrational ideology.    For the sake of our nation, come Election Day, more Americans need to honestly ask themselves, “When the phone rings at the White House at 3 AM, who do they want to be there to answer it?”

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Valley Influencers: Bill Grube

“Only in America can you start a business in your basement and grow it to $100 million a year.” It is rare to find the combination of an influential leader whom has made such a positive indelible mark, mixed with a humble recognition of their impact and influence.  Bill Grube however is one of those […]

“Only in America can you start a business in your basement and grow it to $100 million a year.”

It is rare to find the combination of an influential leader whom has made such a positive indelible mark, mixed with a humble recognition of their impact and influence.  Bill Grube however is one of those leaders.  A number of years prior to the famous NIZ legislation, he launched into a major redevelopment project in the heart of downtown Allentown to create the impressionable 6-story restaurant, now Hook Seafood & Grille.

Grube’s time-honored and selfless model in contributing to his businesses by caring for his team members and treating them like family has been the primary reason for his great success.  He feels that his main purpose in life is to help those around him, a mission he fulfilled in his initial business venture, Night Vision Equipment Company.  Grube designed products visible through night vision gear to help soldiers differentiate between the ally and the enemy.  Literally thousands of American lives have been saved as a result.  After selling his company, Grube switched gears and jumped at the opportunity to invest in creating a brighter future for center city Allentown.  He has been a unique leader, making many sacrifices as one of the earliest adopters of Allentown’s renaissance.

Walking through the front door, looking through a tranquil water display, one sees the grand Hess’s chandelier spilling into the main dining room from the open second floor, creating a sparkling effect of grandeur and warmth.  The host of the day reinforces this warmth while welcoming guests at Hook Seafood & Grille.  It’s a jewel of a restaurant that could be found in Upper East Side of the big apple, but instead graces the downtown of the little apple, Allentown, located just across the street from the historic and majestic Miller Symphony Hall.

I met with Bill Grube for our interview and I was reminded of his genuine kindness and warmth.  We nestled into one of the second floor restaurant booths, received some warm fresh bread, butter and chilled water and then were swept into our profound interview…more like a reflective conversation with a friend.

OLSON We are sitting together in this interview because somewhere along the line of your life, you evolved into a leader.  Was that an evolution that began in childhood or in business?

GRUBE That is a long evolution.  I didn’t see it when I was younger, as I was introverted for a long time.  However, over the years I became confident in my business skills and learned how to interface with employees and customers.  I don’t look at it as leadership, I look at is as being guided…and things evolve on their own.

OLSON You mentioned that your “becoming a leader” evolved sometime after you had employees.  Most people think they are a leader by the mere fact that they have employees.  Not you?

GRUBE I never really looked at it as a leadership role, more as a guidance role.  When I had my own business it changed everything.  My job was to mentor them and pull them together as a team, that kind of thing.  If you call that leadership then yes, but without them I had nothing.

OLSON Tell me about how the vision came together, your business idea crystallized, for you previous company?

GRUBE I worked for a company in their marketing department and we were sold.  One of my learned hobbies was making a few pieces of night vision surplus items.  I figured I don’t know if I can work for the company that bought us, so at that point, if I can make one of these pieces of equipment a week, I can make a living.  It started in my basement…I was literally making them in my basement.  The last year I was in business, 22 years later, we were doing $100 million a year in sales.  No place in the world that someone where I came from could accomplish that but in America!

OLSON Did you grow up in the Lehigh Valley?

GRUBE Yeah, graduated from Allentown High School before it was William Allen.  I’ve been all over the country but I liked this better than any place I’d been so I stayed.

OLSON There are many styles of leadership; can you describe how yours has been over the years?

GRUBE A lot of my style has been to truly care about employees.  Every morning I went in and said “good morning” to each employee, and I could tell what kind of day they were having…if they had a personal problem or if they were happy.  I just knew who needed guidance or help.  As time went by, they looked at me not as the president or the boss but as a family member.  That means we care about each other and then in turn, we cared about our customers.

OLSON So you just valued and cared for your employees because that’s what they wanted?

GRUBE Yes, most of all, people want to know they are appreciated and that they aren’t scared about their job, but that they’re part of the team.  That is what will build this business.

OLSON Now you don’t have that business anymore…is Hook Seafood & Grille your primary business venture, and are you using the same methodology back from Night Vision years?

GRUBE Yes this has taken more of my time.  I’m putting more of my influence here.  And definitely, I won’t change something that won for me in the past, and I enjoy the role of caring for employees and being in a mentor role.

OLSON I have trials in my life that have galvanized me into growing as a person and a leader…have there been trials in your own experiences that have shaped you?

GRUBE Yes I have had them, but I don’t remember them because I put them behind me.  That was then and this is now.  I don’t dwell, I move forward.

OLSON Who are you the biggest fan of?

GRUBE That’s pretty easy, three people.  Jesus Christ, Ronald Reagan, and my grandfather.
My grandfather because he raised me…I was raised by my grandparents.  He was an older man that tried his best to raise me.  It’s not easy when you are an older guy raising a young kid around 10.  His name was William we called him Pappy…Nana and Pappy.  He taught me to hunt and fish.

Reagan was a great American.  He didn’t lie to us.  He was truthful and firm.  He had the attributes of a leader that if I could emulate I would want to do that.  I trusted him as a leader.

Jesus would be a tremendously long conversation…but let’s leave it at he’s changed my life.

OLSON Do you have any weaknesses or areas of self awareness you think about?

GRUBE Sure, you grow in that way whether you’re a leader or not.  I mean every day we face challenges and become self aware by realizing the results of our actions.  I can see in myself if I’ve perpetuated something and then seeing the results of the situation makes me take a look at myself.  It’s hard to change who you are, you have to nibble at the edge.

Sometimes you might take a big bite.  So learning through mistakes is part of self awareness.  Sometimes it’s hard to be aware of what they are and sometimes it takes years to find out what they were, but you have to address them you can’t just sweep them under the rug.

OLSON What is the importance for coming downtown and creating such a beautiful facility that we haven’t seen here for a long time?

GRUBE In the process of building Hook, partially through a God-thing, I realized I was building it to improve the community.  I wanted to show that there are people who have faith in this town that will commit large dollars to doing great things downtown. We want this restaurant to be a shining light and beacon of hope in the community.  Remember, this was before the NIZ and we had no idea the NIZ was coming, so it was a mission.

OLSON Personally, as an entrepreneur and faith-filled man, I am thankful you have jumped into Allentown, right smack in the middle of the community to be a positive difference maker.  So what kind of legacy are you hoping to have as a leader?

GRUBE What I want to leave with my children and my family is philanthropy.   My wife and I have both served on a lot of boards.  We have put a lot of heart into children’s causes, things like children’s hospitals.  What I want to teach them, no matter what you do or what you have or don’t have, you always have got to give something.  It doesn’t have to be money, but it has to be something from you.  This is the same with Allentown.  I want people to understand that giving of themselves and giving and investing some of their treasures for others raises everyone else up.  If I can be any kind of a role model here, then I have served my purpose here!

On that note, Bill had to slip downstairs to the main dining room where his wife was waiting to have dinner with him.  What a genuine man I found Bill to be and his heart for making a positive impact was contagious.  That’s what I call leadership…getting out in front, being bold, doing things others won’t, and hopefully blazing a trail so that others can follow onto new frontiers.

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Where Are The Women in Aviation?

When you think of a ‘pilot’, what picture pops into your head?  They’re easily recognizable in their pilot uniform with their crisp white shirt with epaulets & stripes on their shoulders. You probably think male right?   I think about this question every time I fly into an airport and walk through the passenger terminal in […]

When you think of a ‘pilot’, what picture pops into your head?  They’re easily recognizable in their pilot uniform with their crisp white shirt with epaulets & stripes on their shoulders. You probably think male right?   I think about this question every time I fly into an airport and walk through the passenger terminal in MY pilot uniform. I recognize the look.  It transmits skepticism that I could actually be in command of any flying machine. There’s a common misconception that all aviators are older males. I have to ask myself, “why?”  While it is true that it is still a male dominated field, more women are becoming involved in all aspects of aviation.  Realistically, however, men still vastly outnumber women.

Why are there so few females flying the friendly skies?   Is the job not appealing? Is flight training too expensive? Or is it something they never thought possible because of public perceptions?  Perhaps it’s a combination of all these factors. Flight training can cost up to $100,000 and it takes years to get enough experience to be considered for hire.  Though it’s expensive and training is lengthy, it is so worth it. Getting paid to travel the world is an appealing perk but that perk comes with a price.  The hours are not cookie-cutter 9-5 hours and can turn into days or possibly even weeks away from home.  This is as difficult for men as it would be for women but mothers who travel extensively for their jobs carry a greater stigma in society.  Another possible hindrance might be that men may be more mechanically inclined by nature (and some young women may be intimidated) to learn they must understand Advanced Aircraft Systems and Aerodynamics.  Women pilots and maybe women in any male dominated field may feel they have to be better than their male counterparts to prove they can excel or that they even deserve a shot.  It means a woman has to fight harder, train harder, and have a thicker skin. This too, may be a reason some women give this job so little consideration.

In addition to ‘piloting’, women can be involved in other aspects of aviation; as mechanics, dispatchers, and even owners of aviation companies.  LR Services, (being one of three woman owned charter/management companies in the Country), also employs several female pilots, a female mechanic, and a female dispatcher.

So, how do we encourage young women to consider aviation as a viable option?
It’s important we introduce aviation options to young girls early.  Introducing them to flight simulations, job shadowing, air shows, and females in aviation history could open up possibilities they’d never thought possible. Then, that skepticism I’ve experienced would be a thing of the past.

Two organizations aimed at attracting females to aviation are listed below:

  • Ninety-Nines Inc. (Founded Nov 2, 1929)
    The name is based on the initial 99 charter members.
  • Women in Aviation International (WAI)

Either of these can be Googled for more information.

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The Evolution of CRM

How the latest tools help businesses connect with customers Decades ago, customer relationship management was simply a salesperson’s Rolodex full of clients’ information. Now, CRM has evolved into robust, feature-rich software that gathers and stores information about your customers, allowing you to deliver a more personal experience with each interaction. Plus, CRM can streamline your […]

How the latest tools help businesses connect with customers

Decades ago, customer relationship management was simply a salesperson’s Rolodex full of clients’ information.

Now, CRM has evolved into robust, feature-rich software that gathers and stores information about your customers, allowing you to deliver a more personal experience with each interaction. Plus, CRM can streamline your team’s workday by automating many of the tasks that used to require meticulous records and hours of research.

The Cloud Revolution

In 1999, Salesforce revolutionized the industry by offering CRM in the form of Software as a Service or SaaS. The idea behind SaaS is that the software runs in the cloud and requires no on-premise hardware or software. This type of model allows businesses to easily reap the benefits of updates and new features with no installation or maintenance needed. In addition, the smallest businesses share the same infrastructure, security, and functionality as the largest companies.

In the early to mid-2000s, as integration with legacy systems became more important, Microsoft entered the market with Dynamics CRM. Today, Microsoft’s Dynamics CRM Online works seamlessly with Office 360 and other familiar tools.

CRM products have shifted from being used as basic account and contact management tools to being a clear competitive advantage for those companies that can correctly leverage CRM’s powerful features.

The most popular CRM platforms currently provide mechanisms for applications to be built without the need for developers to write extensive code. An innovative tool like Salesforce’s Lightning App Builder allows non-technical users to drag and drop prebuilt components to construct mobile-ready applications.

The Future of CRM

CRM products will continue to evolve in ways that empower their users to make intelligent, data-based decisions and connect with their customers in entirely new ways. Analysis and intelligence tools already provide many features that support this but they are just the tip of the iceberg.

“The ‘intelligence’ aspect of CRM is helpful, no, essential, for small and mid-sized businesses if they want to compete in the 21st century,” says Doug Pelletier, President of Trifecta Technologies. “To be successful, we believe that companies must be engaged with the initial setup and select a consulting partner that knows the CRM platform to successfully enable the automation of all or most of the sales and service workflows and business processes.”

Tips for Making the Switch

Pick a cheerleader: Identify who will be the champions for the new system at your company. It is imperative that there are sponsorships at the executive level but it is also important to have everyday users who will trumpet change.

Investigate your data and workflows: Begin thinking about your current pain points and missing functionality with your existing systems or processes. Moving on to a new and better system is a great excuse to improve processes. Identify what, if any, data from other systems would need to be migrated into your CRM. This can be done at a very high level but is still helpful in getting you to think about how you will use your CRM.  It can also be helpful in gauging your level of effort, though you should consult with the CRM company or one of its implementation partners before making any assumptions.

Find a partner: While you’re considering a CRM, make sure that you choose an implementation partner that will work best for you. There are many partners to choose from, of various sizes and with varying skill sets. Some perform plain implementations but do not have the skills necessary to tackle more complex implementations that require code. Some partners are good at extending the capabilities of CRM platforms with code but are not as good at business process consultation. Some partners have a mix of both.

Be sure that your partner cares about your company’s success and takes the time to fully learn about your business. A good partner should clearly add value, give advice, share experience, empower the employees of your company, and always be available. The difference between having a good, knowledgeable, and available partner and one that is not can make all of the difference.

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What is a Cursor?

Someone having computer problems. IT. Enough Said. Quality IT help is hard to come by, isn’t it? The scope of IT support is no longer printer/copier configurations and basic desktop support. With an ever-expanding digital landscape, increased emphasis on data security, and greater reliance on interconnectivity comes the need for highly skilled, reliable IT experts […]

Someone having computer problems. IT. Enough Said.

Quality IT help is hard to come by, isn’t it? The scope of IT support is no longer printer/copier configurations and basic desktop support. With an ever-expanding digital landscape, increased emphasis on data security, and greater reliance on interconnectivity comes the need for highly skilled, reliable IT experts that can manage everything for you. Have you considered outsourcing your IT services to offload the required labor, expertise and management of those resources?

IT Support Before, During and After Business Hours

How can you achieve business efficiency when you can’t even get to your systems? It’s fair to say that the modern workplace is dependent on constant connectivity, with applications like virtual desktops, Office365 and other cloud applications in regular use. As a business owner, you need IT processes to run smoothly so that you never have to suffer costly downtime. Wouldn’t it be nice to know your office network will be up and running when you return to work every Monday, and every other day? You’re not in the business of troubleshooting outages and service disruptions. In fact, wasting time with IT yourself prevents you from performing core business functions.

Round-the-clock IT support service is just one of many advantages of working with an MSP like MC IT to increase efficiency and productivity. Viruses that lock you out of your computer and important company files can strike without notice. Because these attacks, commonly referred to as malware and ransomware, don’t follow a set schedule, you need 24x7x365 IT support services. If you haven’t yet explored the benefits of managed IT services, you probably face the following two scenarios when shi.., I mean IT hits the fan:

  • Your in-house IT loses valuable company time trying to resolve the issue.
  • You call up your break/fix provider, the IT “support” that only comes when you report an issue, to see how soon they can come onsite, evaluate and attempt to solve the problem.

As you may have discovered, neither situation is ideal. When you partner with MC IT, however, you receive proactive rather than reactive solutions. This distinction makes all the difference when attempting to minimize business downtime and reduce the impact of issues. So how does this work? Unlike a break/fix provider that depends on you discovering an issue, we come equipped with an IT management platform that allows us to monitor your network continuously from the cloud. This product is referred to as remote monitoring and management (RMM). We deploy agents to all of your devices and track the health of your IT network, using the leading RMM. Unlike break/fix IT services, we can therefore detect an issue as soon as it arises and resolve it before it becomes a bigger issue, often remotely, rather than require a possible lengthy venture to your offices. One hidden benefit of this is that you don’t have to wait in line. Whereas a break/fix provider may already have a full agenda of sites to visit and can’t get to you until later, we can act fast, so fast, you may not know there was a problem to begin with. Yes, if an alert hits after business hours, we will be able to act quickly and without disturbance to you or your employee’s production.

Supplemental Resource to Your In-House IT Team

How large is your IT department? Are there a few holes you wish you could fill, but either can’t afford to employ more people or can’t find enough qualified candidates? If you do have an in-house IT department, perhaps they could benefit from the additional IT support and resources an MSP, such as we provide. Then, there’s the issue of turnover. Is it difficult for you to keep true IT talent very long? IT is the glue that holds your company together and keeps business up, running and profitable.

An MSP helps you extend your in-house IT team, enabling existing staff to better manage their workload, at a fraction of the cost. This can be a huge relief for companies that only have one or a few dedicated IT folks on staff. Working with us at MC IT also opens you up to new expertise and skillsets. Our technicians hold a wide array of technical degrees and certifications, and can help you implement more complex technology projects. There’s no doubt that with more hands on deck, you can reach higher levels of business efficiency.

Group Policies and Procedures

When you hear the words “data breach” and “data loss,” what images appear? One very real consequence of compromised data is loss of business, delayed work efficiency or even going out of business. Are you aware of all the various contributing factors responsible for data loss and data breaches? Better yet, have you built and enforced security policies and procedures to protect against these threats? Let’s first examine the role human error plays in weakened security. Poor passwords and password security are just the tip of the iceberg. Combine this with staff accidentally deleting files, leaving devices unattended without locking screens, misplacing devices, sharing files un-securely and falling for malware or phishing schemes, and you’ve got the potential for business-crippling situations on your hands.

Enough tech-talk. We hope we’ve convinced you to prioritize the importance of your IT and do something proactive about it. In fact, contact us. MC IT, we ensure critical IT systems are always available to support your core business functions. Take advantage of our complimentary initial consultations.

Info@MCLVIT.com

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Why Bad Video Isn’t Good for Business

How many of you have seen the recent explosion of videos being shot on an iPhone inside a car?  They’re all over social media.  While it’s most often being done by small business owners, it’s not exclusive to that group.   People have caught onto the idea that video sells and that Google demands it, but […]

How many of you have seen the recent explosion of videos being shot on an iPhone inside a car?  They’re all over social media.  While it’s most often being done by small business owners, it’s not exclusive to that group.   People have caught onto the idea that video sells and that Google demands it, but they missed the subheading.  Bad video isn’t good for business.

No matter what the size of your company, corporate videos are an investment.  And here’s the truth, no matter how big (or small in the case of the do-it-yourselfers) the budget sometimes they miss the mark.

Most business people need help creating good video. Business owners are experts in the work they do, but producing watchable video is most likely not part of the skill set. Just reading about video production techniques online or monkeying around with an advanced iPhone video app, won’t give you the polished, creative content and visual presentation that showcases a business in the best light. It’s likely you aren’t telling a story that engages your audience.

You really have to spend some time and a little bit of money to get started in a professional way. You do not need lots of bells and whistles, green screens, drones or dancing dogs to create content that counts. You simply need to put a professional polish on it, just like you would when building your website. Potential customers or clients need to know you care enough about your business to invest in quality work, including your marketing materials. You and your videos need to be professional.  Your video won’t promote your expertise, your passion or your work effectively if the audio and the lighting are bad.

People often know they should be using video in their business but both the technical aspects of shooting, editing video, the content part and deciding what to say in their video, scares them. They may think, “Oh, well, I can’t possibly make the video.  I don’t know what to say.” Or a lot of people also say, “I’m not good on video. I don’t want to be on TV.”  Or, they “go for it” and embarrass themselves.

In your marketing video, you simply have to talk about you in an engaging way. You’re the expert in YOU. You’re the expert about your business.  Your video shows that you’re the passion behind the product. What you need is to find someone who can help coach you through this process.  Find someone with the knowledge to ask you the key questions to develop your message:

You’re going to talk about WHO? That’s you.

WHAT? What’s your business do or what products do you offer?

WHY should a consumer buy your product or service?  Explain why you do what you do!

You also have to think about how much time your potential client will give you to consume your content.  When I say that, I mean sometimes, its 15 seconds and other times its 30 seconds.  Maybe your video is a minute long. It just depends on your story and the visuals that go with it, because, above all, this is a visual medium and you want robust pictures to go with your story.  The days of doing a 5-10 minute about your business, and calling your video needs met, are over.   The modern YouTube viewer won’t give you that much time.

Whether it’s a corporate profile, a television commercial or a product promotion, it makes no difference. You’ll want an emotional hook to engage viewers.  And most importantly, put your best foot forward, so you’re not creating videos that are painful to watch.  I firmly believe and advise all clients that poor quality videos will attract the wrong clients.  Simply put, bad video makes you look bad.

You’re good at what you do and you want it to show.  You don’t want to look like one of those amateur auditions.  The old advertising slogan of what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas does not apply online.  The modern expression is, “What happens on Google stays on Google.”  And it might stay there forever, so you’d better make it good the first time.

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Organizing Your Financial Stuff

If you had an emergency that landed you in the hospital for a few days, maybe weeks would your family, specifically your power of attorney, in charge of your financial stuff be able to manage with limited or no help from you? Trying to figure out someone’s financial picture or what needs to be done […]

If you had an emergency that landed you in the hospital for a few days, maybe weeks would your family, specifically your power of attorney, in charge of your financial stuff be able to manage with limited or no help from you? Trying to figure out someone’s financial picture or what needs to be done without guidance from you could be a bit tricky. You always think you have plenty of time, maybe tomorrow I will organize, gather my important papers, and set things up for my family. Financial confusion happens all too often when I help family members organize their loved ones financial information after an unexpected death, illness or injury.

Think about tax season. It comes around every year. We know the drill. I’ve been filing my taxes since I was 15. We know the mail begins to come with important tax information sometime in January but we all have until April 15th for filing sometimes later if you file an extension. Every year without fail one item gets misplaced – it isn’t put with the other tax information and I spend hours in search of it. Finally, exhausting all nooks and crannies I make the call into the company to have them resend a duplicate.

Organizing your stuff now while you are able is an important task that each of us should tackle sooner than later. It’s not easy but imagine if someone else had to do it for you. Here are some ideas and tidbits to make this an easy process.

Make sure you have updated and current power of attorney (both financial and healthcare), trust documents and wills in a safe place. Connect with your trustee or power of attorney(s) and confirm they know and remember they are your power of attorney. Additionally, tell them where the original documents can be found should they need them. Attorneys suggest updating them every time there is a life change – marriage, divorce, child, etc. and/or review every few years at least.

2  Document in an estate planner guide or even a notebook who is your accountant, attorney, financial planner, insurance agent, or other professional representatives you use on a regular basis.  Phone numbers, emails and address is also important as well as what they are responsible in helping you with.

3  Insurance policies – original policy documents for life, property & casualty, annuities, long term care, disability.  Outline insurances, insurance agents and policy beneficiaries if applicable. If you are still paying on the policy consider asking a 3rd party person to receive the bill in case you forget to pay it, you don’t want the policy to lapse especially long term care insurance.

Assets – qualified or non-qualified accounts including bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement accounts, valuables – current statements of each, financial representative/agent you work with, beneficiaries – make sure they are updated.  Retirement accounts can pass outside your will.

Funeral arrangements – burial plots, pre-paid funerals.  Important to note the funeral home, director, location of each. Additionally, consider completing a final wishes guide. This will take the burden off your loved ones trying to decide on what final decisions you would like versus them trying to figure this out.

6  Tax records should be kept for 7 years and any documentation you used to file your return like a W-2, 1099, etc. When in doubt keep it!

7 Finally another good thing to keep with your important papers is your passwords. We are an online generation. We tend to do everything online from communication via email, social media platforms, paying bills and managing our bank accounts. Without this simple word or conglomerate of symbols, numbers and letters it would be a difficult job to manage someone’s financial stuff.

It can be easy to be overwhelmed trying to organize decades of paperwork from the past. Take things one step at a time. Make a list and knock one off each week as necessary. You can also seek help from an organizer or planner working in the senior markets that specializes in organization. The goal is to have it organized and ready for your family or loved one to step in and take charge when needed leaving them in good shape to handle your finances and “stuff” with ease and clarity.

For more information or to book a meeting to discuss your situation please contact Miriam at 484-523-0573 or email at allianceplanning123@gmail.com

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