Author Archives: AZ Big Media

AZ Big Media

About AZ Big Media

AZ Big Media has grown to cover a multitude of niche topics and industries within its various publications, and become a host for a series of publication-related events and statewide expos.

kids.online

New COPPA Regulations: Are You Ready?

Less than two weeks remain before the effective date of amended regulations for the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). With the new and expanded definitions under the amended regulations, COPPA may have an impact on you now, even if it didn’t previously. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to review your processes in anticipation of compliance, as the requirements become effective July 1, 2013.

COPPA was first passed in 2000, prohibiting website operators from knowingly collecting personally identifiable information from children under the age of 13 without notice and verifiable parental consent. However, as technology has continued to advance, the FTC has recognized a need to amend the definitions under the regulation to sustain the intent of COPPA. “Personally Identifiable Information” has been expanded to include (i) geolocation; (ii) audio, photo, and video files that contain a child’s image or voice; and (iii) persistent identifiers that can recognize users over time and across different websites or online services such as IP addresses and mobile device IDs. None of these items is traditionally (at least within the United States) considered to be personally identifiable; nevertheless, under the new regulations, a website operator cannot collect them from a child under 13 years of age without parental consent, and “collection” now includes even passive tracking.

There are a few limited exceptions to this prohibition under the new regulation: No parental notice or consent is required when an operator collects a persistent identifier for the sole purpose of supporting the website or online service’s internal operations, such as contextual advertising, frequency capping, legal compliance, site analysis, and network communications. Further, under the new definitions, “collection” of personal information now permits operators to allow children to participate in interactive communities without parental consent, so long as the operators take reasonable measures to delete any personally identifiable information before it is made public.

On the other hand, with the expanded burdens on the restriction of data collection come a bit more flexibility, as the new regulations also expand the acceptable types of verifiable parental consent. The new definition of “verifiable parental consent” expressly contemplates electronic scans of signed parental consent forms, video-conferencing, the checking of government-issued IDs against known databases, and requiring a parent to use alternative payment systems such as debit cards and electronic payment systems in connection with a monetary transaction.

The new regulation also closes a loophole that had previously existed with use of third-party ad networks by expanding the definitions of “operator” and “website” to include third-party data collectors. For example, third parties will no longer be permitted to use plug-ins on kid-directed apps to collect personal information from children without parental notice and consent.

In addition to the change to the current definitions, the new regulations impose tighter data security obligations, focusing on the release of data to third parties and on stricter processes for data retention and deletion. The FTC now requires reasonable steps to ensure children’s personal information is released only to companies that are capable of keeping it secure and confidential. Finally, the regulation requires reasonable procedures for data retention and deletion to help ensure information is not kept longer than reasonably necessary and to ensure it is securely deleted.

On a final note, if you have previously applied to be, and have been approved as, a member of a COPPA safe harbor, be prepared for an audit. The FTC is requiring enhanced oversight of such organizations by requiring the self-regulatory safe harbors to audit their members.

With each new wave of internet sophistication and technology, we will likely continue to see expansion of the applicability of COPPA. More and more entities are building their business models off of “big data” and the collection and use of such data online. With that kind of business, however, comes the privacy regulations, and the FTC considers COPPA a useful tool in its toolbox to continue to enforce online data privacy.

Take a deep breath and dive into the definitions — the fully revised rule can be found at 16 C.F.R. Part 312 (http://www.ftc.gov/os/2012/12/121219copparulefrn.pdf). Contact your data privacy counsel to help you sort through the new definitions and see what your obligations might be under the new regulatory scheme. The earlier you can sort through your potential compliance issues, the sooner you will be able to minimize any potential liability and exposure, and thus protect your business, its assets, and its reputation.

For more information on data privacy issues of all kinds, contact Heather Buchta at (602) 229-5228 or heather.buchta@quarles.com, Cameron Robinson at (602) 229-5285 or cameron.robinson@quarles.com, or your Quarles & Brady attorney.

OBryan_Brent_2

How Culture Trumps Policy, impacts Workplace Violence

“The nail that sticks out gets hammered down” is an old Japanese saying that took hold in our post World War II corporate America culture. This phrase encourages an unspoken rule of conformity combined with an authoritarian hierarchical structure. Today it is important for business leaders to consider the impact this has in American workplaces.

Chicago, Baltimore and Philadelphia are examples of metropolitan markets that wrestle with significant violence in the streets. In all three cities, law enforcement and the state attorney’s offices face the headwind of a “stop snitching” culture. Stop snitching, or the suggestion that one should not cooperate with authorities by sharing information about violent incidents, is so prevalent in some areas that t-shirts reflecting an anti-snitching message have been produced and sold.

When criminals and bullies are accepted as commonplace and have greater influence than the law, their actions will not be reported, and the perpetrators themselves will ultimately not be held accountable for their actions. An anti-snitching philosophy also infiltrates many workplaces as criminals, or at least those who have yet to be found guilty, and bullies become the employees sitting in the next cubicle or office. Or worse, they become the boss.

When individuals see something but say nothing, or when organizations discourage, intentionally or not, the active reporting of concerning actions and behaviors, opportunities for violence in the workplace increase. So, what can an organization do to transform from a “see something, say nothing” culture to a “see something, say somethingTM” culture?

Organizational culture, policy and practices need to be objectively evaluated, and if necessary, changed. The culture of an organization will always trump policy when the two are not aligned. And, culture is often best defined by the accepted behaviors and practices in an organization. While the printed or preached culture may be a positive one, if the reality of what is practiced every day is not, senior leadership needs to take steps to make the desired culture a reality.

The following are some areas that business leaders in human resources and other senior leadership roles should review, analyze and work collectively to change.

Tame Senior Management Bully Squads – If leadership fosters a workplace bullying culture, that this attitude and behavior will trickle down, permeate and dramatically alter the work culture in an extremely negative fashion. Human resource leaders, in particular, need to demonstrate to senior management that the adverse culture fails to foster productivity, teamwork and creativity – three vital objectives that every company wants to fulfill.  Human resource leaders may consider corporate wide surveys, implemented by a third party vendor, that poll employees anonymously. If employees know that they can vent their frustrations and share feedback anonymously, without fear of losing their job, real change can start to occur.

Create Leadership Development Programs –Nurturing in-house talent with a well-defined leadership development program makes employees feel more connected to the business, eases the chain of succession and empowers employees to be more creative, connected and engaged. Just as there are companies in many shapes and sizes, leadership development programs differ dramatically from company to company.  The end goal of these programs is that employees have an opportunity to improve their skills through classes and workshops, have access to promotional opportunities as they arise, and feel a sense of community and kinship with their company.

Leadership development begins with recruiting as human resource professionals seek individuals who can successfully lead their company’s mission. An ongoing commitment to a leadership culture, to include developing leaders throughout the organization, is critical. Strong leadership can help develop your desired culture and support a positive work environment.

Develop Culture of Openness – Companies that have developed a culture of openness can provide and receive feedback at all levels. A 360-degree feedback initiative can be a valuable option but are only recommended after a company has begun its journey to developing an open culture.  If the workplace still fosters a see something, say nothing ideology, employees will not be forthcoming for fear that their confidence won’t be kept, or that the source of negative or constructive feedback will be too easily identified. A third party survey company should be brought aboard to confidentially assess feedback by employees at all levels of the organization.

Establish Reporting Mechanisms – It is important for an organization to establish clear reporting lines. These should be made especially clear in policies and procedures and communicated frequently. For example, if an employee, who is trained on the warning signs for workplace violence, sees aberrant behavior or actions by a colleague, they should know exactly when, how and to whom they should report this activity. The expectation that employees report inappropriate, violent or suspicious activity can only be realized when there are measures in place that allow and encourage reporting.

Leadership effectiveness is dependent upon the ability to gain the trust of the people who work for them. This also assumes that the one holding the trust – the employee – will perform certain desired behaviors, and that the leader has both the desire and ability to “walk the talk.” People who feel they are in a safe and secure environment are capable of achieving great things. It is up to their leaders to tap into this fundamental optimism and allegiance, and move them forward to success.

 

By building a successful culture where employees feel safe, not threatened, and not maligned by their bosses, they will flourish creatively and be more productive. By developing a culture where employees understand the range and varieties of workplace violence and its warning signs, they will feel empowered to do something about it. A culture actively exhibiting healthy behaviors and practices, combined with a zero-tolerance policy for any inappropriate or troubling behaviors is a winning formula, both for the organization and the individual.

 

Brent O’Bryan, SPHR,  is Vice President, Learning and Development at AlliedBarton Security Services, www.alliedbarton.com, the industry’s premier provider of highly trained security personnel to many industries including commercial real estate, higher education, healthcare, residential communities, chemical/petrochemical, government, manufacturing and distribution, financial institutions, and shopping centers.

Traffic Congestion, Ways to Reduce in Phoenix, AZ

Should The Legal Blood Alcohol Content Be .05?

Earlier this month, the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that all 50 States adopt a cutoff of .05 Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) as the maximum percentage of blood alcohol that a person could have in their system and legally drive. Although spurned by good intentions, this lower figure is both unattainable and will likely increase the danger of drunk drivers on the street. That is probably why the usually staunch supporters of increased punishments for convicted impaired drivers, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), have been noticeably quiet and unsupportive of this proposal.

Most people will agree that it is a bad idea to drink any amount of alcohol and get behind the wheel. The best way to avoid coming close to the current legal threshold of .08 BAC is to abstain from any consumption of alcohol before driving. However, alcohol is by far one of the most studied substances on the planet. The current data suggests that people begin to be impaired to operate a motor vehicle by alcohol when their BAC reaches a .08 percent. There are not any peer-reviewed studies that support that impairment begins at levels lower than that. Lowering the cutoff to .05 would, in essence, make it criminal to drive with a non-impairing level of alcohol in one’s system. What makes the NTSB proposal more questionable is that it doesn’t take into account the practical effects that this would have on law enforcement. If officers were forced to investigate cases with lower BAC’s and effectuate arrests in cases where they had probable cause to believe that an individual had a BAC as low as .05, it would require the officer to spend time booking and processing that person. Most DUI investigations take between 1-3 hours, during which the arresting officer is no longer available to patrol and investigate crime. Imagine the scenario where an officer stops a non-impaired driver with a BAC of a .06 and while spending hours arresting and processing the non-impaired driver, other actually impaired drivers with BAC’s significantly higher than the current legal limit of .08 are on the roadway and potentially dangerous. By focusing on the non-problematic individuals with BAC’s between .05 and .08, the limited resources available for enforcement are misappropriated and can actually make the streets less safe.  As a result, despite the good intentions of the NTSB to make recommendations that could limit tragedies on the roadways, this particular proposal in practicality would focus on the wrong people and could cause more problems than it would solve.

Meanwhile, there may be a more dangerous situation happening our roads: An increasing amount of people who are using their smart phones and driving, sometimes reffered to as Driving while InTEXTicated. Arizona has the toughest DUI laws in the country, but there is no education about the dangers of texting while driving, or Driving While InTEXTicated, which can be more dangerous that driving at a .05 BAC level.

A study by Car and Driver found that when driver texts while driving, their reaction time will decrease by 35 percent, while a legally drunk driver’s reaction time is decreased by only 12 percent. When a driver is texting while driving, they are visually, manually and cognitively impaired; while driving drunk, a driver is only cognitively impaired.  Car and Driver rigged a car with a red light that alerted a driver when to brake while sober, drunk, texting and while reading an Email and the test concluded that texting and driving had a slower reaction time and a higher risk for being involved in an accident than driving at a .08 BAC level.

 

Craig Rosenstein is an attorney with Rosenstein Law Group. For more information about Rosenstein Law Group, visit www.scottsdale-duilawyer.com.

Sabrina LeBeauf, best known for her work on “The Cosby Show,” stars in “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Perfect girls night: 'Love, Loss, and What I Wore'

Young or old. Fat or thin. Gay or straight. “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” which will be on stage at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts through June 16, is a “can’t miss” for every woman. It had us crying one minute, then squealing with laughter a split second later.

Addressing issues like shopping for your first bra, the coveted little black dress, weddings, the death of a child, mother-daughter relationships, lust and cancer, “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” is pertinent to all women.

This intimate collection of stories by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron is based on the best seller by Ilene Beckerman, as well as on the recollections of the Ephrons’ friends. Like the popular book, the show uses clothing and accessories and the memories they trigger to tell funny and often poignant stories that all women can relate to, creating one of the most enduring theater experiences. The all-star cast features Dee Hoty (“Mamma Mia!”), Sabrina LeBeauf (“The Cosby Show”), Amanda Setton (“The Mindy Project”), Zuzanna Szadkowski (“Gossip Girl”) and Dawn Wells (“Gilligan’s Island”).

It takes each member of a predominantly female audience on a journey through the pains and joys of womanhood. The bold, and often humorous topics begin by reminiscing the first special dress for a five year old girl, hysterically rebels against the black hole purse dilemma, and concludes by admitting defeat in a shapeless Eileen Fisher garb.

The most wonderful thing about this play is how intimately every woman in the theater knew each other without ever having met. There is something unique and unspoken among women which made this incredibly clever, sensitive and poignant play touch each heart in the same way at the same time. By its response, the energy of the audience was the sixth cast member. At the end, our only disappointment was that it was over. We each commented that we could stay and listen to these women go on all night about the wars, woes and wonderful blessings of our lives.

The venue at Scottsdale Performing Arts Theater was perfect. Its modern design and efficient staff made for a most enjoyable evening. In the lobby before the play, we sat and gabbed sipping wine, mesmerized by the spinning art suspended from the ceiling above. The seats in the theater were very comfortable and the steep design of the rows ensured that there isn’t a bad seat in the house.

For us, it is the perfect girls night out for you and your friends.

Sabrina LeBeauf, best known for her work on “The Cosby Show,” stars in “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts.

Perfect girls night: 'Love, Loss, and What I Wore'

Young or old. Fat or thin. Gay or straight. “Love, Loss, and What I Wore,” which will be on stage at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts through June 16, is a “can’t miss” for every woman. It had us crying one minute, then squealing with laughter a split second later.

Addressing issues like shopping for your first bra, the coveted little black dress, weddings, the death of a child, mother-daughter relationships, lust and cancer, “Love, Loss, and What I Wore” is pertinent to all women.

This intimate collection of stories by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron is based on the best seller by Ilene Beckerman, as well as on the recollections of the Ephrons’ friends. Like the popular book, the show uses clothing and accessories and the memories they trigger to tell funny and often poignant stories that all women can relate to, creating one of the most enduring theater experiences. The all-star cast features Dee Hoty (“Mamma Mia!”), Sabrina LeBeauf (“The Cosby Show”), Amanda Setton (“The Mindy Project”), Zuzanna Szadkowski (“Gossip Girl”) and Dawn Wells (“Gilligan’s Island”).

It takes each member of a predominantly female audience on a journey through the pains and joys of womanhood. The bold, and often humorous topics begin by reminiscing the first special dress for a five year old girl, hysterically rebels against the black hole purse dilemma, and concludes by admitting defeat in a shapeless Eileen Fisher garb.

The most wonderful thing about this play is how intimately every woman in the theater knew each other without ever having met. There is something unique and unspoken among women which made this incredibly clever, sensitive and poignant play touch each heart in the same way at the same time. By its response, the energy of the audience was the sixth cast member. At the end, our only disappointment was that it was over. We each commented that we could stay and listen to these women go on all night about the wars, woes and wonderful blessings of our lives.

The venue at Scottsdale Performing Arts Theater was perfect. Its modern design and efficient staff made for a most enjoyable evening. In the lobby before the play, we sat and gabbed sipping wine, mesmerized by the spinning art suspended from the ceiling above. The seats in the theater were very comfortable and the steep design of the rows ensured that there isn’t a bad seat in the house.

For us, it is the perfect girls night out for you and your friends.

Eric Marcus, CEO of Marcus Networking.

What Happens if you Lose a Laptop with Patient Information?

The government is starting to implement the HIPAA-HITECH Encryption Requirements 2012. If you choose not to encrypt data, the HIPAA Security Rule states you must implement an equivalent solution to meet the regulatory requirement. The law leaves encryption open to interpretation since covered entities vary when it comes to network and network usage, depending on the type and size of business.

Typically, if a doctor or nurse loses a laptop with patient data on it, they are required to report it.  But, now Marcus Networking, Inc. has a solution that meets FBI and government regulations.  It’s an encryption software program, that is installed on all devices (computers, handheld devices, etc.) with patient information and if it’s ever lost or stolen, the information can’t be recovered.  When the device boots up, it won’t open and hackers can’t get in.  The program is highly sophisticated and hackers haven’t been able to crack the password to get in.  The software program can take as little as 20 minutes to install and runs approximately $100 to $2,000, depending on the scope of work.

To learn more, contact Marcus Networking at 602-427-5027.

allergies2

Ahh-choo! Beat Your Seasonal Allergies


Runny nose, watery eyes—spring is certainly in the air.

If you think you’re hearing more sniffles and sneezes around the office, it’s not your imagination. Allergies can occur both seasonally and year round. They develop in response to different indoor and outdoor allergens. Once they come in contact with the body, the immune system works to fight off the illness and prevent asthma as well as any allergic reactions.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), every day in the United States, an estimated 50 million people suffer from allergies, while 44,000 people have an asthma attack, often in relation to allergies.

What are the symptoms?

Let’s face it — suffering from allergies is not fun. Whether you’re reacting to pollen or peanuts, your boyfriend’s cat or your girlfriend’s pooch, allergies can definitely put a damper on anyone’s day. Symptoms that typically occur include:

Wheezing
Coughing
Difficulty breathing
Headaches
Runny nose
Red and itchy eyes

Knowing the substances that can trigger episodes of sneezing or a runny nose is important to asthma and/or allergy prevention and treatment. While there are no cures for these problems, there are methods to help get them under control.

So, what’s a person to do?

It may come as a surprise, but ditching anti-bacterial anything in the home is actually a good thing. In fact, on average, incidences of asthma and/or allergies occur far less in those individuals that are around items that typically cause allergies rather than those brought up in suburban, super-hygienic environments.

Huh?

Yep – humans and bacteria bugs (aka what we are killing with our anti-bacterial products) have been living together for a long time. However, as Americans have increasingly become more concerned about the cleanliness of their working and living environments, they have been ridding themselves of these bugs and killing their own immunity to them as a result.

Other prevention options may include getting allergy tested, using an inhaler, or trying various immunology therapies to help treat symptoms. For quick allergy and asthma relief, over-the-counter medicine can help alleviate some symptoms.

Finally, having a well-balanced diet can help build a healthy body on the inside and out.

fruits and vegetables

Children and adults should be feeding the “good” bugs and bacteria in their bodies with plenty of vegetables and fruits, specifically those with prebiotic plant fibers that fuel the bugs and help them fend off allergies and asthma before they start. This can also be accomplished by simply adding supplements with these plant fibers, like Prebiotin — found at most health food stores.

Now that spring has sprung, and trees and flowers are in bloom, it appears we’ve all got what seems like a thousand different types of allergies. With the right preparation and prevention tips, we can help beat allergies and asthma and survive this spring allergy season.

For more information, please visit www.jacksongi.com.

Dr. Frank W. Jackson is a retired gastroenterologist with more than 40 years of research on nutrition and colon health. Today, he is the founder of Jackson GI Medical as well as Prebiotin, a premier prebiotic fiber supplement distribution in the Northeast Valley and available at Cooper’s Nutrition, The Vitamin Shoppes and Sprouts Valleywide. For more information, please visit www.jacksongi.com orwww.prebiotin.com

 

social.media

Social Media: Great Resource for Small Business

Are you taking advantage of social media in your small business? According to a recent report by the Social Media Examiner, you probably should.

89 percent of the respondents said social media was providing them greater exposure and 75 percent claimed it was increasing traffic. Although only 43 percent suggested that social media increased sales, I think social channels should be looked at more as a brand building play anyway—which is very consistent with the survey results. That’s not to say social channels don’t generate sales, they do. I just don’t think the social channel should be treated the same as a Google Adwords campaign or direct mail.

I was surprised to read that about 25 percent of the small business marketers surveyed had been doing anything with social media for a year of less and only 30 percent had been doing anything for a couple of years or more. For many small businesses, I think the social bandwagon is a wagon you should likely get on, provide you take the right approach.

Nevertheless, before you jump in with both feet, here are five questions you should ask yourself:

1) Do you really want to do this?

Before you spend time on strategy, before you set up any social media accounts, ask yourself, “Am I willing to invest the man hours that will be required to make the effort a success?” Most small businesses won’t require a full-time social media person, but they will require someone’s time. For example, if you plan on posting a blog every week, plan on three or four hours to research and write. Once you get in a groove, you might be able to cut that down a bit, but if all you’re doing is once a week, you won’t see much time savings. What’s more, it takes about 50 posts before Google starts paying any attention to you, so you’ll want to commit to a year’s worth of writing before you’ll see much search traffic.

If you’re going to have a Facebook or Twitter account, you’ll want to make daily updates — which don’t add much time to the day but can add up to an hour or more if you’re updating Twitter, Facebook and any other social media — to build a following. Best practice suggests a couple of posts in the morning and a couple of posts at the end of the day. That doesn’t mean you can ignore that media the rest of the day. You’ll want to make sure someone is regularly (every hour or two) monitoring your accounts in the event a customer or prospective customer tries to interact with a question or concern. This person might be you, but doesn’t have to be. Just remember, whoever interacts with the world on social media becomes a spokesman for you and your company. Choose wisely. However, if nobody’s there, you lose the interaction and the value of the social medium. Do you really want to do this?

2) What do you want to accomplish?

As I said before, being social just to be social is time that could be better spent someplace else. Do you want to establish yourself as a thought leader? Do you want to keep your customers up-to-date on what’s happening in your company? Do you want to keep customers and potential customers educated on industry best practice? Do you want to leverage social media as a customer service tool? You’ll need to build a strategy around those objectives and execute accordingly. Some media do a better job at some objectives than others.

3) Are you prepared to air your dirty laundry in public?

None of us like to deal with public complaints, but maybe this question is put the wrong way. A better question might be, “Are you willing to watch your dirty laundry aired in public?” Whether you’re part of the social conversation or not, people are talking about you and your business online — the good, the bad and the ugly. If your business is like most, you’re going to be exposed to some pretty intense negative feedback from time to time.

One of my friends purchased a shed from a big box home improvement store a while back. It was to be shipped in a couple of days, but somehow his order got lost. After several frustrating phone calls with no resolution, he decided to try complaining on the business’s Facebook site. Within a few minutes, he had a very friendly social media person try to take his complaint offline to “shut him up.” You may want to establish an official policy regarding how this type of interaction will take place. Don’t wait until it’s time to make those decisions while in the heat of battle.

He suggested they work it out on Facebook. Not long after that, he had confirmation of the shipment and the issue was resolved. Like most of us, they didn’t want this dialog to take place on a public forum — they had behaved badly and wanted to hide the misstep. However, publicly making things right probably helped them with their Facebook followers. We all understand that mistakes happen. This retailer demonstrated publicly that it was willing to help its customer (although it would have been much easier to have dealt with the issue before my friend escalated the issue to Facebook).

4) Who is going to be responsible?

If nobody in particular is responsible, your social media efforts aren’t going to go anywhere. A few years back I did some social media consulting for a local nursery. They had volumes of tips to help gardeners and we started sharing them three times a week in a blog that invited them to visit one of their gardening experts to make sure they got the best advice for their particular yard. It was so successful that they decided to bring the effort in-house. Unfortunately, they lost whatever momentum we had gained when they stopped posting daily on their Facebook and Twitter accounts and quit contributing regularly to their blog. My guess is that nobody was really responsible to make sure the effort happened every day (see point No. 1.

5) How are you going to eat the elephant?

Launching a social media effort can feel pretty daunting for a small business, but it’s a lot like eating an elephant, you need to do it one bite at a time. Once you’ve discovered where your customers hang out the most, start there. If it’s Twitter, spend your time there. Once you’ve got that down and feel like you can take the next step, move forward. You might be surprised at how quickly you’ll have a robust social media presence.

If you were waiting for the fad to go away, I’m not convinced it will. Sure, we might be using different tools that Facebook or Twitter, but the way we communicate with our customers is changing for many small businesses and I’m convinced it’s going to continue. You might be interested to know that Facebook, Blogging, and Twitter round out the top three social media channels according to the survey. If you’d like to read more about it, here’s eMarketer’s take. What do you think? Is social media a great resource for small business?

A small business evangelist and veteran of over 30 years in the trenches of Main Street business, Ty Kiisel makes small business best practices, tips and advice accessible by weaving personal experiences, historical references and other anecdotes into relevant discussions about leading people, managing a business and what it takes to be successful. Ty writes about small business for Lendio.

volunteer

Paying it forward: Why it Matters

If one person can make a difference, think what an entire company can do.

Giving back has been at the core of many great businesses, but there is a growing trend in the way businesses are paying it forward — employee-volunteer programs.

Many businesses understand that it’s more than just numbers, it’s about values. Generosity and corporate responsibility are some of those values. Generosity demonstrates a genuine corporate value that benefits the company and employees. Many businesses have started to make it a fundamental part of their mission.

In many different ways, businesses are looking for ways to reach their consumers, connect with them on a personal level and give back to the communities in which they live and serve. Through employee volunteer programs like HERO at Harrah’s Ak-Chin, employees volunteer thousands of hours each year to help individuals and communities in need.

Some recent HERO success stories include:

* Employees raised $7,000 for the Dove’s event to help with a late life domestic abuse program and shelter (first of its kind).
* Over 40 participants in Pat’s Run to help provide resources and educational scholarship support to veterans, active service members and their spouses.
* Participation in Maricopa Relay for Life dinner and walk raised more than $18,000 for cancer research.
* Employees collected 831 pounds of food and distributed to needy families at the FOR Maricopa food bank event.
* Partnered with the Ak-Chin Indian Community, with over 160 volunteers, for a community trash pickup in celebration of Earth Day.

But communities and organizations aren’t the only ones benefiting — businesses and their employees are also seeing the benefits, too.

What goes around comes around
Beyond helping the community, volunteer programs help employees. Volunteering boosts motivation and allows employees to work with each other outside of an office setting. When employees have the chance to give back in a meaningful way for something they care about, they will feel more positively connected to the business where they work.

As for businesses, a donation simply is not enough. It’s about the return. Making a lasting impact is just as – and perhaps more – important as defining your mission. You can’t solve disease or climate change with good intentions. As your name comes around as a business that is generous with their time and money, you’ll gain new customers, clients and overall respect from the communities you serve.

Other benefits:
* Improve relations with the surrounding community
* Enhance public image through a different platform
* Strengthen employee leadership and interpersonal skills
* Improve employee retention

Charity may begin at home, but it certainly does not end there. From the small grass-roots enterprises to large organizations, building partnerships with nonprofit organizations and supporting employee volunteer opportunities is a great way to give back to those who have helped support your business and will likely bring beneficial returns back to the business.

Mike Kintner is marketing director at Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino Resort.

 

 

Ron Pacioni-Coup De Tartes_01

Coup Des Tartes adds catering company

Ranked as the No. 1 French restaurant by Ranking Arizona for four years in a row, Coup Des Tartes is a charming, 15-year-old, bistro-style restaurant that patrons call one of the most engaging and intimate dining experiences in all of Phoenix.

With his exquisite attention to detail, owner Ron Pacioni has turned Coup Des Tartes into the longest-running BYOB (bring your own beer, wine or champagne) restaurant in Phoenix, while dominating that niche in the process.

Now, Pacioni is bringing his golden touch and exquisite taste to the catering and special events industry. Rendezvous Catering and Events is another masterpiece in which Pacioni has immersed himself. Rendezvous offers the same exquisite delicacies as Coup Des Tartes, just at a greater production scale. With a thoughtful and dedicated staff, Rendezvous Catering and Events vows to make any party an event. To help give those parties and events a place to call home, Pacioni has opened a new sister venue called Les Deux, which is located south of Coup Des Tartes on 16th Street.

“We can bring in a large corporation or a small group and provide great quality experiences,” says Pacioni, “At Les Deux, guests can receive a hotel experience without having to rent out a banquet room.”

Accompanied by an intimate setting and relaxing feel, Les Deux is designed to seat only 40-120 people. Pacioni created his new catering company because Central Phoenix was in desperate need of an eclectic special events corporation. By catering to all parties — whether they are weddings, corporate events or everyday social gatherings — Pacioni prides himself on finding a happy medium for all clients and providing a four-star meal with fantastic quality services.

“With any type of food  — from Italian, Mexican or even Coup Des Tartes style — the chefs are very talented and exceptional at customizing the menu for guests,” says Pacioni.
For whatever mouth-watering food the client is craving, Pacioni says his team at Rendezvous Catering and Les Deux will work with each individual to craft an eating arrangement to suit the needs of any party.

Since opening in December, Pacioni says he has high hopes and aspirations for his latest business venture. In the first quarter, Pacioni says the special events corporation has exceeded his expectations and standards as he plans to use Les Deux as an outreach to the events community.

interiorfeature

Interior Design Trends Bring a Palette of Gray and Taupe, with Dynamic Artwork Focal Points

Just as our wardrobes and hairstyles evolve to keep pace with the trends in fashion, interior design trends move forward just as quickly.

Everyone craves a change of scenery from time to time, and updating your home may provide that fresh, new look you have been searching for. According to some of Arizona’s top interior designers, homeowners are opting for cozy furniture, while keeping a modern aesthetic in mind. Designers are using gray and taupe with bright accents, like orange or pink, for all aspects of the home. Free-form sculptures, intricate wall coverings and vibrant paintings are serving as stunning focal points and will give any room a new look and feel.

ANGELICA HENRY

AngelicaHenryAngelica Henry of Angelica Henry Design describes gray as a popular color choice for 2013. It is being used for everything ranging from cabinetry to flooring. She completed a home in Paradise Valley in March 2012 that exhibits the request for gray, which she calls “the updated version of brown.” She selected clean lines and shapes to create a streamline effect within the space and then added pops of color to bring some flair to the nonchalant color palette.

Although clean lines and straight edges may appear to be designed with only style in mind, Henry strives to find pieces of furniture that her clients will actually enjoy using. She mentions that her clients are not only looking for trendy streamline furniture, but also durable and comfortable pieces. Contrary to the past, designers are aiming to make every room in their clients’ homes livable and functional, even the formal living room, she adds.

AH2   AH1

The desire for comfort has extended beyond the interior. Henry says that homeowners are now focusing on making their outdoor spaces just as livable as the rooms inside their homes. The key to creating the perfect outdoor area is to find a resilient, yet stylish fabric. She describes the perfect material as “durable enough to withstand our intense sun, but looking and feeling like a fabric that could be used indoors.”

(480) 502-6605, angelicahenrydesign.com

KRYSTYN MOROZ

KMorozKrystyn Moroz, owner of DTN Design Group, describes how the universal shift to eco-friendly living has incorporated organic and earthy appeals into designs. Because of this trend, designers are using brass accents as an alternative to muted metals that have been popular in the past.

“Brass has a warm, comforting feel that incorporates well into the organic, natural designs that have been emerging recently,” Moroz says. She often uses emerald paint and tribal print to create earthy accents.

Designers are integrating striking wall coverings into their projects as well.

“Wallpapers aren’t pink geraniums on a cream background in our grandmother’s kitchen anymore,” Moroz says. “They’ve become a bold expression of the individual and a brilliantly creative alternative to paint.”

Art 4   Art 5

She has also been utilizing colorful artwork to make bold statements in her projects, rather than using them as an overlooked background element. Art is no longer restricted to a flat canvas; designers have been placing three-dimensional pieces on walls to create an updated style of artwork. Moroz adds that free-form sculpture has become especially popular for adding a playful, unconventional element into any room.

(480) 458-7700, dtndesign.com

Luxury Home - AZ Business Magazine November 2008

Luxury market sees 54% drop in short sales

This summary looks at single family homes over $500,000 in all areas of the Northeast Valley, including Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, Fountain Hills, Rio Verde, Arcadia, Biltmore, Cave Creek and Carefree.

SUPPLY

The supply of active listings offered for sale as of May 1 is 2,222 down 2% from last month and comprising 2,122 normal (down 2%), 83 short sales (down 8%) and 17 lender-owned (up 31%). Last year on the same date we had 2,017, with 1,803 normal, 179 short sales and 35 lender-owned. So supply is 10% higher than last year, with more sellers encouraged by the improvement in the market. Homes in distress have declined significantly over the last year with short sales down by 54% and lender-owned homes down by 51%. 2,222 luxury home listings remains a sufficient supply to satisfy the present number of buyers and the market remains fairly balanced, without the chronic shortages of supply which have been affecting prices at the low end of the market. For homes priced over $2,000,000 there are 454 active listings, down 8 from last month but 3% higher than the 439 we measured last year. This higher priced sector has more plentiful supply than the lower priced ranges. However this year there are only 2 lender-owned home and 5 short sales over $2,000,000, down from 5 and 13 on May 1, 2012.

DEMAND – SALES

There were 354 sales closed though ARMLS in April, up 16% from the 305 reported in March, and up a strong 31% from the 271 we saw in April 2012. Since last December sales numbers have been getting increasingly impressive and this was the strongest April for sales over $500,000 that we have seen since 2007, when there were also 354 sales. There were 7 sales over $3,000,000 compared with 8 in April 2012, and 18 sales between $2,000,000 and $3,000,000, up from 10 in April 2012. The range from $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 declined from 16 to 11 sales, but all the lower price ranges saw substantial increases over last year. 92% of sales were normal in April 2013 compared with 82% last year.

mom

Got Milk? Babies and Breastfeeding

Becoming a mother is one of the most wonderful and challenging times in a woman’s life. It’s a time for celebrations but also a time for preparation, planning and important decision making. One of those decisions being – do I breastfeed or use formula milk?

Many new mothers struggle with the decision to breastfeed or bottle feed their new baby. While many may opt out of breastfeeding, health educators are encouraging mother’s to reconsider.

Why the breast is best

Nursing is a wonderful experience for both mother and baby. It provides ideal nourishment and a special bonding experience that many nursing mothers desire.

Aside from that, breast milk also provides infection-fighting prebiotics (antibodies) that aren’t found in formula. These antibodies are passed from the nursing mother to her baby and can help by increasing the barriers to infection and decreasing the growth of bad bacteria that can create viruses and other infections like:

  • Gas, diarrhea and other digestive health issues
  • Respiratory infections
  • Ear infections
  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Childhood obesity
  • Leukemia
  • Eczema and other skin issues
  • Immune system

But that’s not all—breast milk is the “perfect food” for the digestive system.

Why?

Breast milk delivers the perfect amount of nutrition that promotes easy digestion. Unlike baby formula, which is full of insulin and high in sugar, breast milk contains lactose, protein, fat and prebiotics that all are easily digested by a newborns immature system. Together they work to promote the growth of “friendly bacteria” inside the newborns stomach and fight off any harmful bacteria that may cause chronic illnesses.

Can mother’s benefit from breastfeeding too?

Weight gain, pregnancy hormones and constant fatigue, it’s no secret that pregnancy can take a toll on a woman’s body. But good news moms—you too can benefit from breastfeeding in a number of ways.

Convenience

Many mothers today play multiple rolls like parent and corporate career woman, leaving very little time to make additional trips to the store for formula and bottles. Breastfeeding is convenient for both mother and child. There’s no waiting when your baby is hungry or need to mix formula and clean bottles and nipples.

Less Expense

Depending on the brand of formula, it is estimated breast feeding can help save thousands. And because of the immunities and prebiotics (antibodies) passed through a mothers’ breast milk, breastfed infants are often less sick than those who use formula, ultimately saving money that would be spent on over-the-counter medicine and doctor office visits.

Baby Bonding

Every mother looks forward to the time they get to bond with their newborn. Breastfeeding stimulates the release of the hormone oxytocin in the mother’s body. That combined with milk ejection and skin-to-skin contact promotes the development of maternal behavior and also bonding between mother and her child.

Weight Loss

Breastfeeding may help a mother get back to her pre-pregnancy weight as well. With proper diet and exercise, breast feeding can help burn some additional calories and shrink the uterus, so nursing moms may be able to return to their pre-pregnancy shape and weight quicker. Not to mention, help a mothers overall confidence.

 

Dr. Frank W. Jackson is a retired gastroenterologist with more than 40 years of research on nutrition and colon health. Today, he is the founder of Jackson GI Medical as well as Prebiotin, a premier prebiotic fiber supplement distribution in the Northeast Valley and available at Cooper’s Nutrition, The Vitamin Shoppes and Sprouts Valleywide. For more information, please visit www.jacksongi.com or www.prebiotin.com

Klocke Dan dpp 6-14-05

Phoenix Public Market boosts micro-businesses

Micro businesses may be small, but they pack a big punch.

Though defined as businesses with less than five employees, www.microexec.com reports that micro firms “represent a staggering 99.7percent of all the employer firms in the country.”  That means more than half of all private-sector employees work for micro firms which pay “44 percent of the total private payroll in the county.”

A Small Business Administration (SBA) report in March 2010 showed that micro businesses created 64 percent of all net new U.S. jobs from 1993 to 2009.

For many micro-business owners, making their first foray into business can be a challenge.  The Phoenix Public Market provides very low-cost opportunities to promote products, establish revenue, and expand micro-businesses.  Along the way, they learn, perhaps make a few mistakes and grow in a low-risk environment.   Today, 45 vendors who started at the Phoenix Public Market now have products that can be found in major grocery stores and restaurants throughout the Valley.

In May, the Market will celebrate the grand opening of a new restaurant by St. Francis owner Aaron Chamberlin in the space that formerly housed Urban Grocery.  The restaurant is adjacent to the open air Market which supports over 100 micro businesses, many of whom will be selling products to the new restaurant.

Despite having to close the indoor Urban Grocery store last May, the open air Phoenix Public Market remains one of the Valley’s leading advocates for and tactical supporters of small business and has continued to grow and flourish.

Even with the setback and the financial challenges it generated, we were able to hold firm in our mission to create opportunities for small businesses that may not be able to open storefronts because of the cost.

Among the reasons we were able to maintain our focus and continue moving forward was the consistent and stalwart support from groups like the City of Phoenix and Bank of America.  The City of Phoenix has been a large supporter from a capital standpoint in building out the open air Market parking lot.  Bank of America was among the first to invest in the Phoenix Public Market with a three-year $25,000 grant and then stepped up with another $15,000 right after the grocery closed when we needed it most.

The impact of those efforts will be reflected long-term and locally. To date our micro businesses have sold over $7 million in local products.  Their support and our ongoing ability to provide opportunities for small businesses will create jobs and generate revenue, taxes and consumer traffic that will, ultimately, contribute to a stronger, more vibrant community.

Those benefits pay dividends to all of us.

 

Dan Klocke is Vice President, Development, for the Downtown Phoenix Partnership (www.downtownphoenix.com).  For information about the Phoenix Public Market, visit www.foodconnect.org.

141245827

The 10 Keys to Social Media Success

Social media has become an important part of many company’s small business marketing efforts. Over the last few years, I’ve noticed that there are many folks who don’t really understand the impact of social media generally and aren’t careful about how they approach the medium. The following are 10 tips that will help your social media efforts be a success:

1. Get in the Game: Whether you think you need to or not, people are talking about you and your business on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. At the very least, you need to be online so you can follow, learn from, and respond to what they are saying. Social media is a great way to learn from what your customers and potential customers are saying about the products they want and an even greater opportunity to engage in a two-way dialog with them.

2. Learn from Donald Trump: Be thoughtful about what you say and how you say it. Following the election, Donald Trump said a number of things that didn’t cast him in a very good light.  You might not have the millions of people watching what you say on social media like the Don, but running off half-cocked is never a good idea (even if your network is only 200-300 people). My own personal measure for whether or not I post something on social media is this: 1)Will it embarrass my company and 2) will it embarrass my Mom. If the answer to both of those questions is “no” I feel OK posting. Every time I have ignored one of those rules I have regretted it.

3. Be Consistent: I don’t think it’s important that you be everywhere—especially at first. If you feel like your customers are mostly on Facebook, spend your efforts there. The same goes for Twitter, Google+, or YouTube.  As a rule of thumb, a couple of posts before noon and another couple of posts in the afternoon is a good place to start. If you only update your Facebook (or any social media status) every week or two, people will lose interest and nobody will follow you. Give your customers a reason to keep in touch with you by providing information that they will find interesting, will be helpful, or is fun.

4. Your Social Media Presence Comes to Represent Who You Are: When I first started working with social media, I decided that my professional and personal personae would happily co-exist. I talk about my hobbies and what I’m doing—I sometimes even share my opinions about current events. However, I don’t post anything personally that would make me look bad professionally. You might think, “My personal persona and my business persona are different.” They may be different, but anyone interested in you will be able to connect the dots. There is no hiding in the social media world (refer to #2).

5. Mind Your “Ps” and “Qs”: Make sure you take just a second or two before you send out a status update that you’ve read it at least once. Although I have made the mistake a time or two, I know of a couple of highly competent professionals who regularly misspell words and use poor punctuation. I know they may be in a hurry and it’s “only a Tweet” but it reflects poorly on their personal brand (particularly to people who don’t know them). It doesn’t take much time to review an update before you hit the send button. I’ve even had someone point out a proofreading error in a blog post before. It’s embarrassing and doesn’t instill confidence in whatever I might be talking about.

6. Don’t be Offensive: Take another look at #2. A great example has been the last year of offensive tirades made by my Facebook and Twitter friends. I get their passion and I understand their political point of view—they made it a point to jam it down my throat over the last many months. Unfortunately, although I still consider them to be my friends, because they didn’t care whether or not I (and others) might be offended by their pontificating, I think a little less of them. Sarcastic diatribes are not a good idea—unless you don’t care what people think of you. I try to keep the dialog civil, even if I disagree with you. What’s more, even if I think you’re an idiot, I likely will not say so on Facebook or other social media—just like I wouldn’t say it to your face over the dinner table at a restaurant. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

7. Choose Your Friends Wisely: A couple of years ago an old friend from high school reached out to me on Facebook. Of course I friended him. A couple of months later I got a call from my son who asked why I was publishing porn on my Facebook stream. This old friend had made an obscene status update and it was on my wall. Because many of my Facebook friends are professional colleagues (and I am personally offended by pornography), I quickly deleted the post and blocked him from my stream. It was very embarrassing to have one of my adult children call me to ask me about what I was doing online. A word to the wise is sufficient.

8. Some Things are Better Left Unsaid: Several years ago I was in a marketing meeting where we were talking about a great campaign idea. I loved the idea and thought I’d test the message out on my blog audience. It went over really well until the V.P. of Marketing saw the post and felt like I spoiled the campaign by tipping our hand. I probably should have thought twice before I did that. Additionally, if you take a sick day and check in at the spa or ski resort, it might not go over well with the boss.

9. Be Positive: I have a professional colleague I’ve known for years who spends most of his time on social media complaining. I have another friend who is incredibly positive about everything. I find myself paying more attention to the updates of my positive friend and often ignoring my negative friends posts. It’s easy to get sucked into the idea of talking about what’s wrong with the way someone does business or a political point of view, but if that’s all you talk about you soon are considered a “Debbie Downer.” That’s not the image you or your business want to portray.

10. Don’t Rely Exclusively on Social Media: Although I’m an advocate of social media, I wouldn’t pin my company’s marketing success exclusively to the social media bandwagon. Traditional marketing media and approaches still have their place, although I happen to think that social media and content marketing are fast becoming a key driver to creating dialog and establishing a brand. Lendio online marketing via pay-per-click drives a lot more leads than this blog, our social media,  or any of our content marketing, but it’s an important part of what we do everyday to share information and build relationships with our customers and future customers.

I’m convinced that social media should play a part in the marketing efforts of almost any small business. These 10 tips will help get you started in the right direction.

ArizonaIronFurniture3

Product Guide to Fabulous Outdoor Living

As it comes time, yet again, to bring out your lawn chairs and start making your outdoor living space presentable, the stress can be a bit overwhelming. From comfortable gatherings to extravagant fiestas, these hot products will make redecorating a walk in the park.

TrexTransendDeckingTrex® Transcend® Decking

trex.com

Looking for a chic and sophisticated deck? Trex® Transcend® decking collection is a must have for outdoor living. Along with warm and earthy shades, these boards share a combination of superior durability, low-maintenance and eco-friendly qualities.

mistersAqua Science Misting Systems

(480) 290-7909 • aquascienceaz.com

Living in the desert, some may find it a bit of an inconvenience to revamp their landscaping for the summer, but have no fear; Aqua Science Misting Systems can fix that. These misters can drop the outside temperature by 30 degrees, making the dreadful heat a little more bearable.

WhitfillNurseryWhitfill Nursery

(602) 244-8479 • whitfillnursery.com

What better way to enhance an outdoor oasis than by adding beautiful trees and shrubberies to the landscape. Whitfill Nursery provides a wide variety of plants to choose from for creating a luscious and colorful, natural environment.

PresidentialPoolsPresidential Pools

(480) 967-9467 presidentialpools.com

Pools with swim-up bars, waterfalls and fountains are no longer exclusively a resort amenity. Presidential Pools is a high-end pool manufacturer creating edgy layouts that take swimming pools to a whole new level and right into the backyard.

ArizonaIronFurniture4Arizona Iron Furniture

(480) 946-3277

arizonaironfurniture.com

Everyone needs a little rest and relaxation. Take a load off, sip a glass of wine and enjoy the outdoors with good friends. Arizona Iron Furniture provides handcrafted iron and steel furniture that can be customized to reflect the ambiance of the outdoor living space.

hair1

EXPERTS OFFER ADVICE ON WHICH HAIR EXTENSIONS ARE BEST FOR YOU

Dating as far back as the ancient Egyptians, women have been constantly searching for the most effective ways to obtain long, beautiful hair. We will try keratin treatments, special shampoos and even dietary changes in hopes of speeding up the growth process. For those with a little less patience, the “hair gods” invented hair extensions.

Extensions go by several different names, ranging from weaves to clip-ins to tracks. One common misconception is that all of these names mean completely different things, but the name simply explains the method used to adhere the extension. Almost all kinds of extensions can come in straight, wavy and curly. Extensions are not only used to add length, but also to replenish volume that has been depleted by hair thinning.

Don’t be afraid if you are new to the extension scene. With the help of Ashley Walker at Primp and Blow, Salon Owner Donte Cassese at Donte’s of New York in Scottsdale, Salon Owner Stacy Ghazi at Vanity Blow Out Bar and Marney Schoenfeld at Zolton’s Salon and Day Spa, we have created a step-by-step guide on selecting which type of extension is right for you.

Different insertion methods

Beads: Micro bead extensions are attached with a small loop at the end of the extension that fastens onto your existing hair. Schoenfeld explains that this method is ideal for a natural appearance because the beads are easily concealed.

Beads are best for women who want a long-lasting look and can keep up with the maintenance, because the beads must be readjusted every six to eight weeks depending on how fast your hair grows, according to Walker.

Weaving: A weave is created when the natural hair is braided onto the scalp, forming a crown on top of the head, and then the extensions are sewn into the braids.

According to Cassese, the weave method is common for ethnic hair types because this hair type is stronger and can withstand the pulling that the process entails.

Clip-in: Clip-ins do the least damage because the hair is attached with clips. Vanity Blow Out Bar uses a special type of clip-in (the halo) that is placed around the head, which adds length and only takes minutes to apply. Ghazi calls the halo method an “up-and-coming trend.”

Clip-ins are ideal for a night out, hot date or any other special occasion because they are designed for short-term periods.

Each of these salons stressed the importance of a consultation, because extensions are not a “one-size fits all” deal. All you need to know is how much you are willing to spend and how long you want to keep your extensions. The stylist will assess your hair type and decide which method is suitable for you.

Watch Marney Schoenfeld at Zolton’s Salon and Day Spa remove and insert hair extensions.

TIPS FOR NATURALLY LONGER LUSCIOUS LOCKS From Citrine Natural Beauty Bar Owner Melissa Lenberg

VITAMINS: Vitamins C, A, and E are antioxidants and fight free radical damage, which can boost hair growth and slow damage.

ESSENTIAL OILS: Try coconut oil, rosehip oil and evening primrose – your hair will smell amazing too! If you want thicker hair, try rosemary. Lavender is great for balancing your scalp’s natural oils and easing inflammation.

MASSAGE: By stimulating the circulation, the improved blood flow delivers nutrients and oxygen to the hair, encouraging growth. Work the essential oils into your scalp massage for a greater benefit!

SALMON: An omega-3 deficiency can lead to dry scalp, so load up on salmon so your hair and skin get their fix.

DARK GREEN VEGGIES: Spinach, kale, broccoli, and Swiss chard are great sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin C and iron which all help your body produce sebum, the body’s natural hair conditioner.

OYSTERS: Oysters are loaded with Zinc – a powerful antioxidant that has hair-stimulating abilities.

beauty feature

9 Eco-friendly Beauty Products

Ever since documentaries like Food Inc. or Forks Over Knives emerged, the shift toward organic and natural foods has swept the nation. But many of us are not aware that the natural movement has extended into the cosmetic and beauty industry.

Several companies are now formulating organic ingredients into their products and eliminating the chemical toxins. The beauty of this influx in healthy living is not only reflected through glowing skin and shiny hair, but also in the affordable price tags.

In honor of Earth Day, it’s time to consider some eco-friendly beauty products as alternatives to your department store foundation and overpriced salon shampoos that will not only have you feeling beautiful, but will please Mother Earth as well.

albaAlba Botanica® Even Advanced Sea Kelp Facial Toner

This hypoallergenic toner is ideal for re-balancing your skin after a long day. It uses a Marine Complex, which includes micronized kelp, balances out the pH levels in your skin and tones your complexion.

$10.99

Available at albabotanica.com or natural food stores, such as Whole Foods Market

 

cheekyCheeky Cosmetics Organic Lipstick

Cheeky Cosmetics crafts 100 percent handmade makeup from organic ingredients. It is not only affordable, but uses quality materials that create soft lips with a shimmery finish. The lipstick utilizes organic castor oil for shine and fullness and organic jojoba oil for moisture.

$20.00

Available at cheekycosmetics.ca

 

jason 2JĀSÖN® Volumizing Lavender Shampoo and Conditioner

Ideal for flat or oily hair, this shampoo uses lavender extract, sweet almond extract and wheat protein amino acids to fortify hair. It is paraben-free and does not contain any color-sucking sulfates.

$10.29

Available at Jason-Natural.com, natural food stores, such as Whole Foods Market, and ULTA Beauty

 

eoseos Lip Balm Smooth Sphere

This lip balm uses 95 percent organic ingredients and is free of petrolatum and parabens. The vitamin E and jojoba oil will leave your lips exceptionally smooth all day.

$3.29

Available on eos.com or in most drug or grocery stores

 

avalonAvalon Organics® Peppermint Hand & Body Lotion

Made with 70 percent organic ingredients and packaged in a 100 percent recycled materials bottle, this lotion sustainably moisturizes your skin. It is rich with aloe, peppermint essential oil and Beta-Glucan, a nutrient that comes from oats.

$12.00

Available at avalonorganics.com or natural food stores, such as Whole Foods Market.

 

mascaraPhysicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Jumbo Lash Mascara

This mascara not only maximizes volume but also nourishes lashes with moisturizing soy proteins. It is made of 70 percent organic ingredients.

$9.95

Available at physiciansformula.com or in most drug or grocery stores.

 

jasonJĀSÖN® Shave Therapy Anti-Razor Burn Lotion

There’s nothing worse than painful bumps and ingrown hairs brought on by razor burn, which is why JĀSÖN developed this lotion. It utilizes 95 percent natural soothing ingredients such as aloe vera and calendula, chamomile and primrose oils.

$8.49

Available at Jason-Natural.com, natural food stores, such as Whole Foods Market, and ULTA Beauty.

 

vapourVapour Beauty Atmosphere Soft Focus Foundation

This foundation is created from 70 percent organic ingredients and 30 percent natural mineral pigments and vitamins. It uses organic papaya and pumpkin to nourish your skin and has anti-inflammatory properties from frankincense and lotus flowers.

$48.00

Available at vapourbeauty.com.

 

organixOrganix Biotin & Collagen Collection

Organix has developed a line specifically for adding volume and dimension to hair. They use ProVitamin B7 biotin to pump up each strand. Every Organix shampoo and conditioner is paraben and sulfate-free.

All four products are $7.99 each

Available through cosmeticsolutions.biz, amazon.com or most drug and grocery stores.

dandruff

Preventing Dandruff Through Diet

No one wants to be associated with the word, “dandruff.” Many people struggle with this common problem, however. Although there are no extreme risks to be concerned about, the white flakes of dead skin cells that shed into your hair can be rather embarrassing. Many have tried home remedies and medications, often times with no results. What if there were an easier solution?

Naturopathic Doctor Suneil Jain says a connection between diet and dandruff has emerged for those who just can’t seem to shake the unsightly flakes. Dandruff can be caused by a variety of different things such as dry skin, stress, not shampooing your hair enough and certain skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis. Although there is no precise explanation for why people have dandruff, research shows that by adding Zinc (an essential mineral) and Biotin (a B vitamin) to your diet, it will improve dandruff drastically.

It has been estimated that more than half of the population in the United States will experience dandruff at some point in their lives, ranging from teenagers to adults. However, with this focused diet, those numbers may just decrease.

Add to your diet

  • Fruits: Large amounts of apples, pineapple and melons are the best fruits to improve skin conditions
  • Vegetables: By eating your vegetables raw, you will be able to keep your scalp healthy and prevent fungus from living on your head and causing the dandruff
  • Ginger: This super spice will help fight and prevent the flakes caused by improper indigestion
  • Healthy Fats: Eating healthy fats play a vital roll in the skin function and appearance

Cut back from your diet:

  • Sugar: Limiting your sugar intake can minimize the appearance of the flakes
  • Yeast: Limit yeast intake by cutting down on sweets, beer and bread

For more information and foods that fight dandruff visit healwithfood.org/dandruff.

156029711

Surviving the Spring: Allergy Prevention

April showers might bring May flowers, but they also bring an influx of pollen that causes our allergies to flare up. Most of us are familiar with the itchy eyes, runny noses and irritating sneezes triggered by spring allergies but don’t have a dependable way to treat our symptoms.

Many resort to obscene amounts of over-the-counter allergy medicines when signs of allergies begin to appear, but what about those of us who want an alternative to popping a whole bottle of Claritin? Several experienced medical professionals enlightened us with their best allergy-relief advice, so that we can focus on spring-time commitments without the runny nose.

Prediction

What most people do not know is that we can try to predict the severity of the upcoming allergy season. Dr. Michael Manning, FAAAAI at Allergy, Asthma & Immunology Associates, provided us with an easy way to determine how serious the season will be.

Allergens in the air correlate with how much rainfall there is. For example, if the winter months are filled with rainy days, the spring allergy season will be more intense. A basic rule to remember is the more precipitation, the worse the following allergy season will be. Dr. Manning advises that this coming spring should be more severe than last spring, because we experienced a lot of winter rainfall. So brace yourselves, Arizonans, and pay close attention to the following guidelines.

Prevention

The first step you should take in treating your allergies is attempting to prevent them. Theresa Ruschetti, LPN at Allergy & Dermatology Specialists, advises several simple ways to reduce the pollen around you:

✿ Shower every night in order to remove all of the pollen that has collected on your hair and skin throughout the day.

✿ Wash your sheets weekly in hot water.

✿ Dust weekly to limit allergens.

✿ If you are taking an antihistamine, take it before you go to bed in order to maximize its effectiveness. Allergens peak from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m., so you want to make sure that the medication has time to get into your system before you start your day.

Treatment

If prevention does not do the trick, there are multiple medications and treatment options to combat allergies.

Antihistamines: These will help alleviate a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, nasal and eye itching and post nasal drip. Some popular antihistamines include Claritin (loratadine), Zyrtec (cetirizine) and Benadryl (diphenhydramine).

Decongestants: This type of medication will help unblock a stuffed up nose Sudafed (pseudoephedrine) is a popular decongestant. Although is it sold behind the counter, it does not require a prescription.

Nasal Sprays: There are two types of nasal sprays – nasal steroid spray (prescription) and nasal antihistamine spray. These sprays are most effective when taken just prior to allergy season. Manning recommends, “If a patient typically develops symptoms in April, it would be best to start the nasal spray in the middle of March.”

Allergy Shots: There are weekly allergy injections you can receive that can eliminate the use of antihistamines. Although you have to get the injections consistently, after a few months of use you can reduce your appointments to every three weeks. Ruschetti informed us that many patients claim these shots work better than over-the-counter medicines.

By utilizing the preceding advice, seasonal allergies should be no hindrance to your springtime plans. Stop by the drugstore to pick up the essentials and make sure you rinse off before bed tonight so that you’ll be ready to conquer any allergen that comes your way.

sustainablefeature

Sustainable Fashion Brands: Beautiful in Every Way

Earth day is an annual day on which events are held worldwide to demonstrate support for environmental protection. What better way to show your support for Mother Earth than indulging yourself in eco-friendly luxury items.

This new breed of high-end designers are throwing out the ever so popular idea of the “granola and hemp” lifestyle and putting sustainable products on the market. Here are a few of the stylish sustainable fashion brands there.

avilanAvilan’s Storied Diamonds

The Avilan story began with a seed. This local company realized that it was time to improve the way the diamond industry operates and created the Storied Diamond. Since the diamond is the ultimate expression of love, Avilan buys and sells sustainable diamonds to maintain a deep admiration and respect for human rights and the environment. You can find out more about Avilan’s at avilandiamonds.com.

SUNOSUNO

SUNO is a New York based, women’s wear label founded in 2009 by Max Osterweis in collaboration with designer Erin Beatty. With eye-popping prints coming from vintage African textiles, this line is really starting to heat up. Osterweis has considered Kenya a second home for quite some time and wanted to incorporate a line inspired by the post-election violence threatening to damage the economy and industry in Kenya. The business has evolved to include production in Kenya, Peru, India and New York. You can find more about the SUNO collections at sunony.com.

StellaMcCartneyStella McCartney

Stella McCartney isn’t just a vegetarian looking to make clothes; she is an environmentally friendly designer and has a line that uses biodegradable, raw and natural products to make her company more sustainable and ethical. Stella refuses to use leather, skins or any animal furs in their products as she want to lead by example in a sustainable industry.

In 2012, Stella reduced her carbon emissions, waste and water usage resulting from the production of products and services by 25 percent. You can find more on Stella’s creations at stellamccartney.com.

AutmnAle-1EE Cuffs

Veronica Gadea founded EE Cuffs in March of 2011 with a desire to create fashionable accessories that anyone could wear. Inspired by the environment to make “wearable art,” Gadea uses elements found in everyday life to craft these mesmerizing one-of-a-kind accessories. These cuffs can be found in the Washington D.C. Area and also online. From wooden cuffs with embellishments to vintage and recreated paper cuffs, you just can’t go wrong. You can find more of these exclusive creations at eecuffs.com.

ecofriendlyHearts

Hearts is a Scottsdale based, eco-friendly fashion business with the hopes to “promote change from purchasing power.” By making this venture as sustainable as possible, owner Hart Cunningham looks to make his entrepreneur-generated-philanthropy mindset a worldwide success for the business itself as well as the environment. By seeking out fine artisans and craftsman, Hearts is able to market exclusive pieces while preserving the beauty of the world. You can learn more about the Hearts movement at hearts.com.

Cynthia Zwick

Let the Sun Set on Debt Trap Loans

In 2008, more than 1.2 million Arizona voters said no, by a 2-to-1 margin, to triple-digit interest rates and special exemptions from the state’s usury laws for payday lenders by rejecting Proposition 200, which would have permanently legalized 300% APR payday loans in Arizona.  Since then, through bi-partisan efforts, the legislature and Arizonans have rejected several new attempts by lenders seeking carve-outs from the state’s consumer loan laws.

A recent news story conveys the urgency of why more work is needed to enforce and uphold the voters’ mandate.  The report showed that many title loans may simply be payday loans in disguise, only possibly worse since borrowers may be putting their car at risk.

While voters were smart enough five years ago to reject the Prop 200 ballot initiative, payday lenders obviously will try to do and say anything to hide their high-cost, predatory product.

Today, they’re simply hiding in the shadows of one predatory loan scheme – car title lenders – to continue their same old dollar-stripping ways.  Regardless of the name they use, it’s clear that it’s just more of same: triple-digit interest rates, putting checking accounts and cars of the most financially vulnerable at great risk and leading to a long-term cycle of repeat debt.

These types of loans ultimately push families into financial situations much worse than when they began – particularly in rural communities – with consequences including bankruptcy, delinquency on other bills, and ultimately bank account closures.

The Arizona Community Action Association, which provides services and programs to assist the vulnerable Arizonans and working poor stabilize their financial lives and move out of and away from poverty, works diligently to protect thousands of Arizona citizens from falling into title-loan type traps from which they may never escape.  These so-called lenders, many from out of state, must comply with laws protecting consumers from outrageous interest rates and predatory practices.

More than 80% of the readers responding to the recent article in The Arizona Republic were quick and to the point, characterizing car title lenders as “piranhas.”   This underscores the very clear public sentiment of the overwhelming majority of Arizona voters who demanded that the sun set on these types of predatory loans.

We appreciate the work of the legislature in preventing payday or other high-cost lenders from rolling back the voters’ mandate.  However, the abuses and tactics exposed by The Republic dramatically emphasize that targeted efforts must continue to ensure the voters’ mandate is both enforced and fully realized to end triple-digit interest rate debt trap loans.

Our community deserves nothing less.

 

Cynthia Zwick is the Executive Director of the Arizona Community Action Association.

ty

3 Reasons the Bank Says No

If your application for a small business loan has been denied, you are not alone. In fact, only about 10 percent of the small business borrowers who apply at the bank leave with a loan. Although the bank may give you a song and dance about why you were denied, it usually boils down to some very basic things:

You haven’t been in business long enough: Most banks don’t want to lend to companies that are in the first year or two of business. The success rates of a business that is over two years old are much higher and your banker, by his or her very nature is highly risk averse. They usually won’t take a risk on a very young company. You should also know that they will likely use your company tax returns to determine how long you’ve been in business. With that in mind, even if you don’t have much to report, file your returns starting with the first year to establish your company’s age right from the start.

Your personal credit is bad: Even if you’re trying to establish credit as a business, especially in the beginning, your personal credit and your business credit are pretty much joined at the hip. In fact, unless you have stellar business credit, you’re likely going to have to agree to a personal guarantee. In other words, you will need to cover the debt personally if your business fails to honor the debt. I recently heard from a small business borrower who defaulted on a very large business loan. The commercial property used as collateral had devalued over the last couple of years to the point where seizing it would only repay 50-60 percent of the loan balance. His attorney told him he should prepare for the worst—the bank will likely take everything he owns to repay the debt. On the other hand, if you have incredible personal credit, that sometimes frees up cash for a young business. Like it or not, maintaining your personal credit is just as important to a Main Street business as keeping a good business credit score.

You do business in a sketchy industry: By sketchy, I mean, highly volatile or erratic. Just like some banks specialize in particular types of industries, they will avoid others. The restaurant business is a good example. Because so many new restaurants fail many banks avoid lending to restaurants at all. If you do business in a highly niche or volatile industry you’ll either need to bootstrap your funding for the first few years to demonstrate that your business is viable before you’ll have any success at the bank, or try to find a bank or banker that specializes in lending to companies like yours. You might have to bank out of town (or even in another state), but building a banking relationship with a bank and banker that really understands your business is a good idea and technology, in many cases, pretty much makes bank location irrelevant anyway.

Does this mean that you’re stuck among the 90 percent that walk out of the bank empty handed? Not necessarily. There are a lot more options today for small business financing than just a few short years ago. What’s more, competition among alternative financing is making rates and other terms more and more favorable for small business owners. Of course even alternative lenders are interested in how long you’ve been in business, your personal credit, and your industry—they are simply willing to accept more risk. You should also be aware that the cost of capital could be a little higher with an alternative lender. Consider it  the cost of being a little more risky loan than what your local banker might accept.

At Lendio, we match thousands of small business owners to financing every month—some even end up with a local bank. Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is power.” Knowing what your banker is looking for and what might be a cause for rejection makes it possible for you to demonstrate you have a plan to either mitigate his or her concerns or help you focus on an alternative funding source that might offer a better chance for success.
Small business evangelist and veteran of over 30 years in the trenches of Main Street business, Ty Kiisel makes small business best practices, tips and advice accessible by weaving personal experiences, historical references and other anecdotes into relevant discussions about leading people, managing a business and what it takes to be successful. Ty also shares his passion for small business every week on Forbes.com.

home.energy

Energy Efficiency education saves educator hundreds

When Kris Johnson bought her home 12 years ago, she fell in love with the high ceilings and open floor plan. It’s a unique home in Arizona because the neighborhood is patterned after a New England village, complete with shake roofs and a community lake.

Like any homeowner, there were things Johnson didn’t like about her 2,900-square-foot abode built in 1974. Many involved the discomfort of living in an older home, such as the original air-conditioning unit, which had been “piecemealed” into operation, plus a sweltering upstairs bedroom her twin sons had abandoned.

“My boys had moved out of their own bedroom and into the guestroom because their room was too hot,” Johnson said. “They were sleeping on the floor.”

Johnson knew her home needed improvements, so she decided to undergo an SRP Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® inspection.

During the three-hour inspection, a participating contractor tested for duct system leaks, insulation quality, and the performance of the home’s air-conditioning unit, and made sure gases from the appliances and furnace were flowing out of the house.

When Johnson received her customized “report card” she learned that if all the recommended improvements were made, she could save 34 percent on her utility bill.

“We learned that our window screens were not adequate, and there were better shade screens to keep the heat out,” she said. “We also learned that our rooms were so hot because the returns on the air conditioners, as well as the ducts, weren’t done well enough to cool the entire upstairs.”

Weeks after Johnson’s home inspection, the antiquated upstairs air conditioner “crashed and burned.” She said she didn’t panic, because she felt like an educated homeowner.

“When a repair became necessary, we attacked it with knowledge as opposed to being ignorant. Because of the home inspection, we knew what kinds of air conditioners were available and best for us,” Johnson added. “We got bids and ended up going with the company that did the home inspection. They knew exactly what we needed and were honest.”

Johnson, who is the principal at the International Charter School of Arizona, said she now has lasting knowledge about how to make her home energy efficient.

“Through this program, homeowners like Kris are being empowered and educated,” said Cindy Marzofka, SRP’s manager of program marketing and corporate events. “The inspection normally costs $500, but we feel it’s important for our customers to identify ways to make their homes more comfortable and energy efficient, sometimes for little or no cost, so we offer it for only $99.”

Johnson says she saved hundreds more on home improvement costs by taking advantage of SRP rebates on the duct test and shade screens.

“We knew we had made a smart choice to learn about energy use within our home. Our bill is $100 less than the previous summer. It’s a smart thing to do before the heat of the summer.”

With newly sealed ducts, shade screens on all upstairs windows and two new air conditioners, as well as more returns to allow air to flow throughout the home, Johnson and her family are much more comfortable.  “Because we did the home inspection, we are much more intelligent. And now the boys are back in their bedroom, which is a good thing,” Johnson said with a chuckle.

To schedule a home checkup, call (602) 889-2656. To learn more and get rebates visit savewithsrp.com. To qualify, you must be the homeowner and a current SRP residential electric customer.