Issue 7

Cigar Reviews: Winter 2017

Cohiba Macassar Double Corona Dominican Republic      7.25”x54     Medium 95-Rated From its Cuban origin to its recent Nicaraguan innovations, Cohiba has long been known for defining class and elegance in the cigar industry. Packaged in a luxurious case made with some of the rarest hardwoods in the world, Macassar impresses from first glance. Havana wrappers marry […]

Cohiba

Cohiba Macassar Double Corona

Dominican Republic      7.25”x54     Medium

95-Rated

From its Cuban origin to its recent Nicaraguan innovations, Cohiba has long been known for defining class and elegance in the cigar industry. Packaged in a luxurious case made with some of the rarest hardwoods in the world, Macassar impresses from first glance. Havana wrappers marry with a lush combo of Dominican and Nicaraguan long-fillers to deliver nuances of wood, spice, cream, earth, and a rich tobacco core combine with a medium to full-bodied balance that only Cohiba can execute this flawlessly. It’s a tall order to fill – but Macassar might be the finest Cohiba ever rolled.

Latitude-Zero

Latitude Zero Excursion Robusto

Nicaragua      5”x54      Medium-Full

94-Rated

The Oliva Tobacco Company is a veritable star within the cigar industry. Latitude Zero Excursion is the latest handmades to employ leaves from Oliva, joining the ranks of Davidoff and Ashton. The wrapper is a thick and oily Maduro leaf, aged twice as long as standards dictate to provide exemplary flavor and punch. A rich aroma of brownies is present upon lighting, complementing notes of earth, leather, and a satisfying touch of dark chocolate. Excursion, a superior Maduro-wrapped creation from the leading growers in the industry.

Davidoff

Davidoff Yamasa Toro

Dominican Republic      6”x52      Medium-Full

92-Rated

Calling upon rare tobaccos from the Dominican’s underutilized (yet waiting) Yamasa region, Davidoff’s newest offering known as Yamasa is a welcome addition to the brand’s highly-acclaimed portfolio. It took a team of scientists to perfect the growing conditions for this region, but the results are immediately evident — hints of sweetness and leather join a rich core of spices to make a complex cigar changing from one puff to the next. Milk chocolate brown Yamasa wrappers combine with four different, extensively aged long-leaf varieties to complete a Davidoff bred to satisfy.

La-Palina

La Palina Red Label Petit Lancero

Honduras      6”x40      Mild-Medium

91-Rated

If you haven’t already, take notice of La Palina. This luxurious brand has been making some waves lately, thanks to a generous array of delicious releases over the past few years. La Palina Red Label, and its use of Ecuador Habano wrappers overtop aged Nicaraguan and Dominican long-fillers, is a prime example. Made at the famed Pinar del Rio factory, this Petit Lancero dishes out mild to medium-bodied hints of red pepper, wood, earth, and nuts throughout a creamy core. Full flavored yet light in body, Red Label is a reliable and delicious everyday option.

Padron

Padron Family Reserve Maduro No. 44

Nicaragua      6.25”x52      Full

94-Rated

Family Reserve Maduro, a jewel from Padron individually handcrafted from ten-year-aged tobaccos. An undeniably unique experience worthy of celebratory moments. A complex, flavorful, exquisitely made cigar layered with big, bold flavors. Expect satisfying notes of spices and wood back by a rich tobacco core and nutty finish that will make you eager to come back for more. Reviewing this cigar was nothing short of extraordinary. I suggest you ‘review’ it, too.

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St-Lucia

St. Lucia’s Stunning Calabash Cove

Considered by many to be the “Hawaii of the Caribbean,” the stunningly beautiful island of St. Lucia boasts volcanic peaks, pristine white and black sand beaches, rainforests and scenic valleys that dramatically tumble towards the crystal clear Caribbean Sea.  Named “one of the five places to see in your lifetime” by Oprah Winfrey, this charming […]

Considered by many to be the “Hawaii of the Caribbean,” the stunningly beautiful island of St. Lucia boasts volcanic peaks, pristine white and black sand beaches, rainforests and scenic valleys that dramatically tumble towards the crystal clear Caribbean Sea.  Named “one of the five places to see in your lifetime” by Oprah Winfrey, this charming island with its famous landmark twin peaks, the Piton’s, continues to be one of the least spoiled islands in the Caribbean. St. Lucia is located in the Eastern Caribbean, midway between Martinique and St. Vincent, and is only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide.  True to its ancestry, St. Lucia welcomes tourists with French-Creole warmth mixed with the hospitality of English sophistication. The exotic allure of this island has been drawing celebrities the likes of Tyra Banks, Morgan Freeman and also the setting for “The Bachelor’s” finale in 2014.

Taking full advantage of the landscape is the luxury boutique resort, Calabash Cove.  Hugging the hillside, Calabash combines nature with elegance, as displayed with the resort’s showcase designer pool that has an impressive 40-foot infinity edge which gives the illusion of the water simply overflowing towards the crystal blue sea below.  As you walk down towards the secluded white sand beach, you will notice the custom-designed boardwalk and several ideal locations for a sunset candlelit dinner for two.  Positioned to view unbelievable sunsets, Calabash is an idyllic respite for honeymooners and couples looking to reconnect.  Managing Director, Konrad Wagner certainly knows how to dial up the romance and create an atmosphere perfect for couples in love.  Mr. Wagner spent years as general manager for Sandals Grande in St. Lucia.  Unlike the large Sandals properties on St. Lucia, this 5-star resort consists of 26 luxurious cottages/suites, all with Jacuzzis and many with private pools or swim up suites and each boasting amazing Caribbean Sea views.  Each unique accommodation features handcrafted teak and mahogany wood and well equipped hi-end electronics, such as flat-screen TV’s, DVD, and refrigerators.  Among the coconut trees and gorgeous “Cove Gardens” is Calabash’s It Spa, Fitness Center, and beauty salon.

Calabash is also home to the Windsong Restaurant, with its Michelin star aspiring French chef and an Asian inspired creative menu using the freshest, locally grown ingredients.  This fine dining experience is complemented by the resort’s C-Bar, which serves international cocktails and fine wines.

The leisure concierge at Calabash knows Guests enjoy the seclusion and romance of the resort but may want to venture out to enjoy all that St. Lucia has to offer.  The concierge specializes in creating individualized, tailored excursions.  Sail the waters on the Brig Unicorn, one of the yachts used to film “Pirates of the Caribbean” or take a tour of the “drive through volcano.”  Yearning to find a waterfall, or glide down a cable through the rain forest, or fly in a helicopter to see the very best view of the majestic Pitons?  The concierge can provide expert assistance in arranging day trips for even the most avid adventurer.   Whether you want to enjoy St. Lucia from the panoramic view of your private hammock on your balcony or soaring down a zip line, Calabash is the perfect blend of all that awaits you on this picturesque Island.

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Cru

Cru Beaujolais

The Other Burgundy Buoyed by a series of excellent vintages and led by a crop of energetic winemakers with something to prove, the Beaujolais region is on the rise. While the region has a wine making tradition and history that dates back centuries, the region has seen significant swings in its reputation and fortunes. Beaujolais […]

The Other Burgundy

Buoyed by a series of excellent vintages and led by a crop of energetic winemakers with something to prove, the Beaujolais region is on the rise. While the region has a wine making tradition and history that dates back centuries, the region has seen significant swings in its reputation and fortunes.

Beaujolais entered the second half of the twentieth century as a sleepy country cousin compared to its more famous neighbors to the north in the Cote D’Or. Like many regions back then, the development of modern winemaking tools has created efficiencies that allowed growers to churn out vast quantities of cheap, cheerful fruity wines, some not so cheerful ones, and a few more serious wines from the best producers and vineyards.

In the 1970’s, a local celebration of the harvest was marketed into an international fad, and the race to get Nouveau Beaujolais to market first (after the legal release date of the 3rd Thursday of November) became all the rage. The short-term prospects were good. Nouveau’s quick fermentation allowed producers to sell the wines in a matter weeks rather than months and years. Production soared, quality arguably suffered, but the impact on cash flow was monumental.

The problem was that they were building their reputation on a faddish wine of dubious quality, and when the fad died, as fads inevitably do, it left a bad taste in the mouths of many consumers. Even during the Nouveau boom years, there were a handful of growers who saw the writing on the wall, realizing the only way to achieve success was to focus on quality over quantity, and craft wines that captured the essence of the grapes and unique terroir of the region. These visionaries eschewed the modern dictates of commercial production and began to follow the lead of biodynamic pioneers like Jules Chauvet. They began with a move away from the methods that they felt resulted in bland, generic wines and moved “back to nature” with organic, biodynamic and natural grape growing and winemaking.

Today many more are following the trend. The top wines from these growers are highly sought after by connoisseurs and top Sommeliers and are now found on the lists of some of the best restaurants in the world. They have been helped by higher prices in Cote d’Or for Burgundy, and more flexible and open-minded consumers.

The region is comprised of the catch-all Beaujolais AOC producing lighter, fruitier wine mainly from vineyards in the south, or Bas-Beaujolais, which is flatter terrain with sandstone and clay soils. Carbonic maceration is widely used to ferment the wines without extracting hard tannins, and the result is soft, fruity wine for early consumption. North of Villefranche is the Beaujolais-Villages AOC, with steeper hills, higher altitude, and soils composed of sandstone, schists, granite and some limestone. The wines here must have a slightly higher minimum alcohol, lower yields per acre, and are a step up in terms of body while maintaining a fresh, fruit driven nature.

The best sites are the hillsides where the soils are mainly granites and schists in vineyards surrounding the ten Cru Villages of Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly. Each has its own subtle stylistic nuances, with more structure and complexity than simple Beaujolais – sometimes more reminiscent of their Pinot Noir based cousins to the north than the rest of Beaujolais. The best can age for a decade or more, yet most are medium-bodied, accessible when they are young, and work with food much like Pinot Noir, pairing with poultry, game birds, grilled meaty fish and lighter meats like pork or veal.

Some of the best can be found in the Kermit Lynch portfolio including Guy Breton, Nicole Chanrion, Chignard, Diochon, Jean Foillard, Marcel Lapierre, and more. Other noteworthy producers include Julien Sunier, Jean-Paul Brun, and Georges Descombes. The wines range in price from under $10 for Beaujolais to the high-teens to the mid $30’s for the Crus, making them quite a bargain. With a series of excellent vintages on the market, especially 2014 and 2015, it is an excellent time to explore a region very much on the move. Cheers!
Chris Cree is one of 40 Masters of Wine in the US and Director of Education and Retail Operations at the Pluckemin Inn, a Wine Spectator Grand Award winning restaurant and online wine shop.

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Flying-Private

How Flying Private Will Change the Way You Travel for Pleasure

Life is all about the memories you make.  Choosing to travel is high on the list for many who want to experience life to the fullest.  Whether it’s skiing in Vail or deep sea fishing in the Bahamas, the memories you make will stick with you and your family for the rest of your lives.  […]

Life is all about the memories you make.  Choosing to travel is high on the list for many who want to experience life to the fullest.  Whether it’s skiing in Vail or deep sea fishing in the Bahamas, the memories you make will stick with you and your family for the rest of your lives.  How you get there makes a difference and can affect the ultimate experience of your dream vacation.  Imagine the excitement of planning your ideal experience, from the perfect destination, your private dining choices, to the excursions you will take.  Now, start thinking about booking your flight.  You start by going to one of the “all-in-one .com’s.”  You select the dates you’d like to travel and up pops a list of airlines, departure/arrival airports, departure/arrival times, connections, layovers, seat selection, baggage parameters with additional fees.  You spend hours double checking dates, times, and fees and commit to an itinerary that includes 10 hours of flying on three different planes, leaving your house by 4 AM to make the first flight and arriving to begin your vacation just after dinner time.  Finally, your travel plans are set, you can relax.  Then, a week prior to your vacation, the airline calls to tell you that one of your flights has been canceled.  Back to square one! Can you rework the puzzle to make it work in time?  You finally manage to pull it all together and head off to your dream vacation.  You arrive and discover your luggage is somewhere between where you are and home.

Now imagine an entirely different experience.  One phone call or email to an Aircraft Management and Charter company, such as LR Services, is all it takes.  You start by telling them your destination, how many are flying, your preferred travel dates, and even the times you’d like to depart from home and for the return. With access to almost 5000 airports domestically and countless more internationally and in the Islands, there is usually an airport closer to where you want to be that may not be accessible by the airlines.  You oversee your itinerary without having to spend countless hours researching.  Your luggage is right there with you as well, with no chance of being left behind.

So, you’ve chosen your dream vacation spot and called an aircraft charter company.  Charter representatives are trained in many aspects of travel arrangements.  Not only will a private charter representative find you options for the most cost-effective aircraft to suit your needs, but they will also offer options such as upgrading to a larger cabin, a cabin with an enclosed lavatory or an aircraft that includes Wi-Fi to stay connected while onboard your flight.  Charter services don’t stop at only securing you the best aircraft for the mission.  They are also able to arrange ground transportation to be ready when you land.  Whether that is a limousine, a taxi, or a rental car, often your wheels on the ground can meet the aircraft upon landing, creating a seamless transition for you and your fellow passengers.  Do you have any special dietary needs to consider or want to indulge while miles high?  Catering is always available to your specific preferences.  With a network of catering providers across the United States and the Caribbean, enjoy whatever you would like in-flight, including organic, gluten free, or any other dietary needs you may have.  As always, the complimentary in-flight mini bar is at your disposal. With mixers available to make the perfect cocktail to enjoy as you relax in leather seats and take in the view from 30,000+ feet above.

Flying in a chartered aircraft changes the way you travel.  Gone are the days of showing up to the airport an hour or more prior to flight.  No need to arrive more than five minutes before you’d like to take-off.  The crew will assist with any luggage you may have, you will climb aboard the aircraft, and you will be on your way.  The luxury of an aircraft that flies on your schedule, to your destination, stocked with your favorites is the perfect way to bookend your high-end vacation experience!  It’s easier, faster, and smarter!

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7 Traits of Great Leaders: Part I

Leadership is a complicated subject. Everyone admires good leadership, and most everyone wants to become a good leader, but what really makes up a great business leader? Let us begin by thinking about the two ingredients that create leadership; learned and DNA. There are different schools of thought on how much leadership is learned vs. […]

Leadership is a complicated subject. Everyone admires good leadership, and most everyone wants to become a good leader, but what really makes up a great business leader? Let us begin by thinking about the two ingredients that create leadership; learned and DNA. There are different schools of thought on how much leadership is learned vs. your God-given personality. I happen to fall into the camp that says most good leaders begin with a specific set of DNA and a cultural upbringing that makes up the largest ingredient. I certainly believe that behavior can be learned, especially leadership, but without an established set of personality traits, even great training can have little impact on creating a great leader. To unpack the seven personality traits that make great leaders, I first need to start with a little background.

It was in 1998 while working with my former consulting firm on a client engagement in NYC where I first intersected with an amazing personality tool I adopted into my consulting practice called Caliper. As a Caliper Strategic Partner, I have implemented the Caliper assessment with hundreds of executives for purposes of recruiting and coaching. The Caliper Profile is a robust assessment, measuring 30 different personality characteristics that make people successful leaders. Compare those 30 to DISC (4 personality profiles) and Myers-Briggs (16 personality profiles), and you will understand my preference to use this powerful assessment tool.

After 50 years in business, working with over 28,000 companies, and assessing over 2 million professionals, the Caliper Corporation determined that there is 7 stand out personality traits that are most crucial for making great leaders. This two-part article will unveil those seven traits and unpack key characteristics of each one. Here are the first three of the seven traits that make great leaders:

  1. Assertiveness
  2. Ego Drive
  3. Ego Strength

Assertiveness

Caliper defines Assertiveness as “the ability to express one’s thoughts forcefully and consistently, without having to rely on anger.” Leaders lacking assertiveness “are less comfortable expressing themselves forcefully and may back down or be reactive in certain situations.”

Assertiveness can often be mistaken for being aggressive, but that is not the case. When a leader is assertive, they can focus their team through direct and clear communication. They have the ability to read their audience, clarify the focus and purpose of objectives, and align the team towards successful implementation. Clarity is key, as reinforced by General Colin Powell, “great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt to offer a solution everybody can understand.”

Ego Drive

Caliper defines Ego Drive as “the inner need to persuade others as a means of gaining personal gratification.”

Mike Myatt, a top advisor to Fortune 500 CEOs, says “you cannot be an effective leader without influence. Let me make this as simple as I can – if you are a leader, influence needs to be a competency.”

Ego gets a bad name because we often discuss it within the spectrum of an individual’s selfish motives. However, ego within a leader who has “Level 5 Leadership” motivations (putting others before self), will be able to wield it for good. That leader will be able to guide and direct people to achieve something that is greater than themselves.

Because Ego Drive can be misread, misunderstood, or misinterpreted by team members, it is imperative that a leader builds his or her credibility so that their Ego Drive is received properly. Credibility happens by earning trust, caring about relationships, being knowledgeable, and obtaining experience. These attributes build a leader’s credibility.

Ego Strength [Resilience]

Caliper defines Ego Strength as “the ability to handle rejection and accept criticism in a manner which is positive and growth oriented.” Leaders lacking Ego Strength “do not have this basic acceptance of themselves and have a poor or negative self-picture, and a preoccupation with their conflict or feeling of inferiority may sap their energy, so that their personality dynamics are weakened or blocked, thus reducing their effectiveness.”

This trait is so important because great leaders are always out front leading the way, driving, sharing, communicating, engaging, energizing, and encouraging those around them.  Their egos must be resilient because the very nature of being a leader is to face opposition and criticism both internally and externally. Ego Strength allows leaders not to lose focus, be hindered, slowed down, or thwarted. They will have a strong resolve to press on with unbridled optimism that fuels the team.

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Networking-Opportunities

Networking Opportunities For Professional Advisors

Professional advisors such as accountants, lawyers, insurance agents, bankers, trust officers, financial planners, investment advisors, etc. depend on each other when working with mutual clients as well as creating new business opportunities for each other.  While there are many articles regarding the best tips and methods of networking, this article will focus instead on organizations […]

Professional advisors such as accountants, lawyers, insurance agents, bankers, trust officers, financial planners, investment advisors, etc. depend on each other when working with mutual clients as well as creating new business opportunities for each other.  While there are many articles regarding the best tips and methods of networking, this article will focus instead on organizations where professional advisors can utilize those networking techniques.

In my years of experience as a CPA/Shareholder with Buckno Lisicky, here are some of the organizations where I have found success in networking with other professional advisors:

  1. Estate Planning Council of the Lehigh Valley – This group of professionals focuses on estate planning, holds four seminars annually, with a networking session following each seminar.  It provides timely information from great speakers in addition to the networking.
  2. Service Clubs – Groups such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, etc. are always looking for new members who want to be active and engaged.  I have been a member of the Rotary Club of Bethlehem for 25 years.  These groups have members from all of the professions and provide a regular forum for networking with those advisors.
  3. Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce (GLVCC) – This organization offers service opportunities on boards and committees, plus many seminars and events each month.  I have served on the board as an officer for five years.  The members are very engaged and include all types of professional advisors, with almost unlimited chances to network.
  4. Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation (LVEDC) – This group holds a series of events during the year, plus an annual meeting/reception event.  Many professional advisors are members of LVEDC or attend these events.
  5. Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) – This group of non-profit fundraising professionals holds several seminars each year, plus an annual breakfast celebrating National Philanthropy Day.  Many professionals advisors who work with non-profits participate in this group.
  6. Non-Profit Boards and Committees – Many non-profit boards and committees include professional advisors.  Serving in these organizations provides ongoing opportunities to network while helping the non-profit succeed in their mission.  The special fundraising events also create opportunities to network with professional advisors who sponsor and attend these events.
  7. Lehigh Valley Community Foundation – This organization stewards charitable funds and helps donors with their charitable contributions, by reflecting the diverse ways people choose to help their community and support causes that matter to them.  A board of governors that has fiduciary oversight is comprised of professional advisors from varied disciplines.  In addition, a professional Advisors Council provides guidance, plus holds seminars and receptions for other advisors.  The board meetings, seminars, and receptions present great opportunities for networking with other professional advisors.
  8. Professional Societies – Organizations for each of the professions tend to hold seminars and mixers that include invitees from other professions. A captive audience containing other professional advisors from the PICPA, County Bar Association, Risk Management Association, Financial Planners Association, etc. is a prime opportunity to network.  The Lehigh Valley Consortium of Professional Organizations holds seminars for attendees from these professions during the year as well.
  9. Seminars and Conferences by Other Professions-  Many professions hold annual seminars and conferences that include spaces for display booths or tables from sponsors.  Staffing a booth or table provides many opportunities to network with attendees during breaks plus before and after sessions.
  10. Networking Groups – Structured groups such as BNI, LeTip, and others are designed to bring together one person from each profession as part of a closed network, to generate leads and opportunities within the group. Although I have never participated in any of these groups, I know professionals who do and have experienced positive results.
  11. Social Media –  Sites such as LinkedIn provide a way to stay in touch with other professional advisors, post articles of mutual interest, and participate in niche groups.

While this list is not all inclusive, it provides a guide to many of the situations available for professional advisors to network.

Best wishes in your networking efforts!

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Inspiration in the Face of Adversity

An Interview with Stephanie Stevens,  Owner of Bell Gate Farm When faced with challenges or difficulties people are often too willing to give up. It is so much more rewarding to instead, take on the challenge as a call to action to make a significant change in your life. Stephanie Stevens, the CEO, and Owner […]

An Interview with Stephanie Stevens,  Owner of Bell Gate Farm

When faced with challenges or difficulties people are often too willing to give up. It is so much more rewarding to instead, take on the challenge as a call to action to make a significant change in your life.

Stephanie Stevens, the CEO, and Owner of Bell Gate Farm in Coopersburg, PA. has faced more than her fair share of challenges. Dealing with the loss of a parent, the birth of a child, the end of a marriage and moving, all register as the most catastrophic and psychologically emotional challenges in someone’s life. Stephanie experienced them all within a six-month period. The death of her mother, her best friend, and last remaining parent meant she was forced to serve as executrix of the family estate. Stephanie lost her father, Richard F. Stevens, a prominent Lehigh Valley Attorney, at the firm Stevens and Johnson, seven years prior.  She managed all of this as a single parent, without a support system, and a beautiful baby girl to raise.

The epiphany of turning the Bell Gate Farm into a state of the art events center came to her after delivering her Mother’s eulogy. Stephanie had stepped outside to compose herself when she overheard guests talking about the fact that there was no way she would be able to save Bell Gate Farm and its 268 acres of land. She heard people say that she would fail, she was hopeless, and it would be a tragedy to lose the land. At the perfect moment, her baby kicked so hard it brought her out of the sabotaging thoughts of others. It was then that the vision to transform a farm into something remarkable came to realization. She envisioned a massive estate renovation while remaining true to its historic Pennsylvania Barn charm, and delivering every amenity possible, with another goal to preserve the other 130 acres of farmland of which were being farmed by the Gehman family, who counted on that land to retain their livelihood.

Take an Inventory of What You Know

Stephanie was reminded of all the tools she had at her disposal.  She brought 16 years of experience working at some of the best marketing firms in the country. Her portfolio included both above the line and below the line advertising as well as traditional advertising and events. The perfect marriage and she was standing outside of a venue that had just been handed to her.

For most of her career, Stephanie was in the production field, which gave her an exciting new twist as an event producer. Her experience producing “Never before done Events” for Fortune 500 companies like American Express, Verizon Wireless, and Microsoft to name a few was extensive. And now she was standing in the most beautiful venue that she could imagine, her family’s home and barn.

Make a Plan and Know Your Goals

It was important to Stephanie to save the land, the house, and provide financial support for her family. Bell Gate Farm served as the perfect backdrop to do just that. And she did! During the renovation process, Stephanie already had 24 clients ready to make memories happen before the scaffolding had even come down. Her vision, design, and flair to make the impossible, possible, brought her dream to life. The idea was simple: create a beautiful venue to hold any type of event, from weddings to corporate retreats to movies under the stars, and do it all at a price point that would fall below the industry’s standard for such occasions. That was the key. Her knowledge of the market and the competitive landscape allowed her to create ideal pricing that would allow clients to have the most amazing times of their life, but without breaking the bank, and that’s unusual in the events industry. She was meticulous and organized but most importantly honest and open with any person who was in a position to help. Her goal is more philanthropic than a profit center, but the catch-22 is that she has to have both.

Be Vocal and Use Your Resources

Stephanie worked in NYC, but when she wasn’t traveling for work, she returned to the Valley and spent time with her parents. She grew up here, and her affinity for this area never waned. Like her parents, Stephanie has always used any resource at her disposal to help others, and she always retained the connections she had in the area. These relationships helped her forge partnerships to get the project off the ground. She was very vocal about her new business and what her mission was.

Be Open Minded

Even the best-laid plans will have their kinks. Stephanie is equipped with every contingency, but the most important takeaway is that no matter what happens in life, you have to keep going and have faith in yourself. Put one foot in front of the other and just move. Everything else will follow.

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Creating-Your-Own-Reality

Creating Your Own Reality

Entrepreneurship Today Starting your own business is an exciting idea wrought with a multitude of unknowns.  Is it right for me?  What should I consider?  Will everyone understand what I do?  Where do I begin? HAVE A VISION: Back in high school, a friend always told me that he wanted “to be an Entrepreneur,” but […]

Entrepreneurship Today

Starting your own business is an exciting idea wrought with a multitude of unknowns.  Is it right for me?  What should I consider?  Will everyone understand what I do?  Where do I begin?

HAVE A VISION: Back in high school, a friend always told me that he wanted “to be an Entrepreneur,” but never knew what he would do. Maybe he was putting the cart before the horse, but at least he had goals. Before pursuing the dream of being an entrepreneur, take the time to think through your vision. Where do you see yourself in 1, 5, even ten years? Maybe it’s working from home, a single person operation with a small, exclusive clientele list. Perhaps you’re at the helm, with a team carrying out your ingenious strategy. Your vision helps create the framework for a business plan, propels you forward, and keeps you on track to achieve your goal.

BUILD A TEAM: Whether a successful solo-preneur or an owner with employees, any business requires a team. Consider your strengths and more importantly, your weaknesses and build a team that covers your blind spots. Doing everything on your own is impossible. Getting bogged down by bookkeeping or marketing or web design is not the best use of your time if it’s not in your skillset. What takes you a day may take an expert an hour – money well spent!  Additionally, set expectations for your team. Are you a 24/7, text at 11 PM, immediate response kind of person?  Own it!  But decide whether your hires must fit that mold or if you understand boundaries. Empower your team, whether employees or consultants, to be a part of your vision and treat them as partners.

WORK HARD: Remember what I said about 24/7?  Be prepared for long hours, consumed by your efforts and working incredibly hard to reach your goals. Communicate to loved-ones that aspects of your life may, temporarily, suffer but that you will soon settle in a new normal. As a business owner, there are always unforeseen situations at all hours; inevitably, during bath time or when your daughter prom’s date arrives. But ‘luck is the residue of hard work, ‘ and many rewards will outnumber the few heartaches.

TAKE RISKS: Are you wearing a parachute? If you are, you’re not really ready to jump out of the plane. Being in business for yourself, potentially by yourself, is dangerous waters. Ensure that you and your loved ones will be comfortable in the new reality. Explore safeguards that can make risks more “calculated.” Consider various scenarios and be equipped for decisions requiring quick action.  A possible order for 1000 widgets when current output capacity is 300 can be a tricky success.  A well thought out business plan will prepare you for positive and negative situations.

NETWORK: As important as creating your vision, building you team, and working hard are, what good is it if no one knows your product? As an entrepreneur, YOU are your brand.Your widget is outstanding and indispensable, but until the rest of the world figures that out, they need to trust and believe in you. Find groups and councils that will support your growth as an individual, team leader, and community member. Attend seminars, go to lunch and learns, and develop relationships within your region and business communities.  If you are among the most fortunate, you will find a mentor – someone in your corner to challenge and inspire you, help guide decisions and provide emotional support at every stage. The value of a good mentor cannot be overstated.

GIVE BACK: Why are successful businesses usually pillars in the community; because their logo looks good on the nonprofit’s website? Not exactly. An individual who gives time and treasure to charitable causes builds respect in her community, makes the community a better place to live, develops valuable connections, learns new skills, and gains respect as a leader with both current employees and business contacts. Involve your team, and you’ve upped your game, my friend. And that’s as good as money in the bank.

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Adverpanicking

Adverpanicking©

I’m going to muddy the waters here. This will sound like a combination of whining and criticism, wrapped up in an angry rant.  It’s not.  It is, however, an “open your mouth and take this medicine” article designed to provoke thought and challenge your status quo – a sincere plea to consider something different. The […]

I’m going to muddy the waters here. This will sound like a combination of whining and criticism, wrapped up in an angry rant.  It’s not.  It is, however, an “open your mouth and take this medicine” article designed to provoke thought and challenge your status quo – a sincere plea to consider something different.

The question I want you to ask yourself is, “Who cares?”

(We’ll come back to this later)

I’m often amazed at what passes for advertising these days.  The job of advertising goes far beyond circulating information. When done well, it’s an ongoing dialog with your customers as well as an invitation to attract new ones and build relationships. Cramming ads with hours, address, years in business, directions, low-quality images, a bunch of vendor logos and other irrelevant information, is a term I call Adverpanicking©
Day after day, week after week, there it is, on full display. The ads are screaming at me from every direction to try this new service, act now, today only, come to our show, eat here because, family owned since, blah, blah, blah…boring and forgettable.
They all suffer from the same problem – they answer questions no one is asking.  Bad advertising is about the business, and good advertising is about the customer. David Ogilvy once said, “You can’t bore people into buying your product.”

I’ve heard over the years, that advertising is supposed to sell products and drive business.  This is true! However, that’s an outcome, not the basis of messaging or design.  Marketing that focuses solely on the end result is a short-term strategy. It doesn’t build loyalty or a relationship to your brand.  It will sell some product, but as soon as a better price is found or the attention of the consumer is diverted elsewhere, you’ll likely lose them.

Instead, try approaching your advertising from the consumer’s point of view.  Sell the solution to a problem or engage the audience in a story about why your business should matter to them.  Be simple in your approach – less is always more.  And don’t tell me you have no time or money to brand, that’s nonsense and if ignored, seriously detrimental to your company’s future.

“Businesses need to understand what they are selling if they hope to create ad messages that will reach the intended audience,” said William Childs, Director of Marketing & Communications at Trifecta Technologies. “Harley-Davidson does not sell motorcycles; they sell freedom. Jack Daniels does not sell whiskey; they sell tradition.  If I owned a mattress store, I wouldn’t sell mattresses. I would sell a good night’s sleep.” added Childs
There are two sides to this issue – those working in the field of marketing & advertising and the clients we partner with in this endeavor.

To my fellow colleagues in the business – fight hard for the good ideas, challenge your clients to disrupt the status quo and tell them what they need to hear, not just what they want to hear.  I know that our toughest task can often be pushing customers into the unknown and beyond their comfort zones.  When your motive is pure, and you truly care about their business, it’s worth it.

To the customers – If you’ve never taken an honest look at who you truly are or what you really sell, now is the time.  If it keeps you up at night thinking, consider it progress.  There are numerous professionals out there full of knowledge and ideas. Many of us love thinking about your business and creating stories to push your brand forward.
I ask again, “Who cares?”  That’s the question that needs to be answered.  Give your audience a reason to care.  Hell, make them angry if you have to, at least you’ll get a response.  Donny Deutsch said, “Better to have 35% of the people charged up about you and the rest hate you than to have 100% not care.”  That’s powerful stuff.  There’s more than enough mediocrity going around, and no one has ever done anything remarkable by blending in.

How do you start? Have a conversation and ask some questions.  I, for one, am always open to a cup of Joe and the sharing of ideas.

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Working-Together

Working Together for the Greater Good

The educational needs of a community are always evolving. Whether it’s making adult education more easily accessible or expanding course offerings, colleges and universities must come up with ways to best serve their local communities. In the words of Father Bernard O’Connor, OSFS, president of DeSales University, “A university must be distinctive. It must stand […]

The educational needs of a community are always evolving. Whether it’s making adult education more easily accessible or expanding course offerings, colleges and universities must come up with ways to best serve their local communities.

In the words of Father Bernard O’Connor, OSFS, president of DeSales University, “A university must be distinctive. It must stand within the society in such a way that it provides service to that society.”

DeSales was founded in 1965 on that notion of service. At the time, there was no liberal arts college for Catholics in the Lehigh Valley. At the request of Bishop Joseph McShea, Allentown College of Saint Francis de Sales filled that void.

Several years later, through the college’s association with the various parishes of the Diocese of Allentown, the need for adults to gain more educational experience became evident. By 1977, Allentown College introduced ACCESS, the first accelerated adult evening undergraduate program of its kind in the region.

“You had to change the culture of the institution, which was geared to serve the traditional student,” says Rev. Alexander Pocetto, OSFS, who helped create ACCESS and served as academic dean. The program was tailored to the students and allowed them to complete a three-credit evening course by attending class twice a week. Courses were readjusted to suit the adult population better, and campus services, such as library and bookstore hours, were extended.

Those changes helped to make education more flexible, accessible, and affordable. And they didn’t just benefit students. “The employers saw the importance of their employees getting further education,” says Pocetto. “The better educated your workforce is, the more competitive it is. The more effective they are in their jobs.”

Another request from the community prompted Allentown College to explore the possibility of graduate studies. At the time, nurses at Sacred Heart Hospital had to travel to Philadelphia to take master’s level courses. By 1984, they had another option — enroll in Allentown College’s first graduate degree program, the Master of Science in Nursing. The program became so successful that others soon followed, including the Master in Business Administration (MBA), which is now the second largest MBA program in Pennsylvania.
Today, DeSales continues to gauge the community’s needs in different ways. O’Connor and Father Peter Leonard, OSFS, dean of graduate education, recently visited the CEOs of 16 major healthcare providers in the area, from hospitals and health networks to rehabilitation facilities and those that care for seniors. It’s something the University has been doing every few years and will continue to do. “For us, it works in two directions,” says Leonard. “One is people come to us for healthcare education, but we go out to these institutions looking for clinical sites for the healthcare education we have.”

The visits also help the University shape the future of its healthcare program. Leonard expects a rise in healthcare delivery as the local population ages. “The area continues to grow despite a population shrinkage, and it continues to grey,” he says. “It’s pretty well demonstrated that the older you get; the more medical attention you need. It’s an area that’s going to be there and it’s going to be bigger.”

Leonard also anticipates that business and computer science will play a significant role in healthcare education as well. Healthcare providers are already looking for employees with computer skills, and that need will only continue to grow. “It’s very clear that healthcare is in a state of transition and consolidation,” he says.

Leonard is currently compiling a report that will determine several feasibility studies in areas such as pharmacy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. It remains to be seen whether these become the next academic programs at DeSales. But one thing is for certain. The University will continue to follow its mission and work together with the local community for the greater good.

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