Author Archives: Shelby Hill

Shelby Hill

About Shelby Hill

Shelby Hill writes business and lifestyle articles for AZNow.Biz and Arizona Business Magazine. She recently graduated from the University of Arizona with a bachelor of arts in English and journalism. Shelby is pursuing a career in journalism.

Girlfriend University - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Girlfriend University Isn’t Just For The Ladies

Don’t let the rhinestones, quotes by Madonna, crystal chandeliers and fuchsia touches fool you; Girlfriend University is serious business.

Founders Renee Dee, former publisher of Arizona Foothills Magazine, and Jodi Low, a former sales and marketing professional, combined their corporate and entrepreneurial backgrounds to create Girlfriend University as a way for women to grow personally and professionally.Girlfriend University Shirts, Lipstick

It’s a place for women to “catapult themselves into a great season of change,” Dee says.

Located in the upscale Scottsdale Quarter, Girlfriend University is equally chic. Clean lines and modern decor set the scene for business and personal growth.

The campus, as the women call it, features a lobby, complete with stick figure renderings of Dee and Low; a conference room; a 50- to 70-seat classroom; and an intimate mastermind room in which teachers and students can brainstorm.

March will mark the first anniversary of Girlfriend University, but it has already grown.

The staff has burgeoned from two, founders Dee and Low, to five, in part because of the success of Girlfriend University’s two and a half day leadership development intensive programs, Dee says. This program doesn’t center on creating a business plan, as most of the university’s other programs do. Instead, it focuses on encouraging women to invest in themselves and their businesses for a good return, Dee says.

The students of the intensive program walk out of the program in a “clear, focused, confident, passionate way,” Low says.

Girlfriend University is committed to doing this “powerful” program monthly, Dee says. To continue this intensive program, Girlfriend University hosts “class reunions” for the students, Dee says.Girlfriend University

Although, as the name suggests, Girlfriend University markets primarily to women, men make up half of the university’s student body.

“The ‘guy’ friends, you could say, are not afraid to stop by,” Dee says.

One of those men is Christian O’Connell, global ambassador for TheScene.com.

“Their two-day course, in my opinion, was more valuable than every other personal development course I’ve ever done,” O’Connell says. “I’ve heard Donald Trump speak on business leadership principles, if you will. The element of personal growth and business knowledge growth that happens at that (Girlfriend University seminar) just surpassed anything that I’ve done.”

O’Connell found this course so useful he encouraged other employees at TheScene.com to take the class.

In addition to the intensive programs, Girlfriend University also hosts a variety of other classes.

It’s a one-stop shop for those looking to grow their current business or create a new one, Low says.

Girlfriend UniversityThree and a half hour marketing sessions, during which the student and teachers “go bananas” in a brainstorming session, is another popular class, Dee says. The session ends with the creation of a business model and a list of people to call and connections to make.

Monthly Business 101 classes focus on a variety of topic, including optimizing social media and maximum time efficiency.

In 2011, Girlfriend University will focus on more “intensive, life-changing programming for leaders and entrepreneurs,” Dee says. The next decade might hold a location change to a freestanding facility as the university grows, Low says.

Wherever Girlfriend University is, Dee is confident that it is unique.

“We feel very one-of-a-kind here,” Dee says. “You can’t go to every city and look at everything they’ve got, so it’s hard to confirm, but we’ve not bumped into anything like this any place else in the country. We’re excited about that.”

Upcoming GU Events:

GU hosts a variety of workshops and one-on-one business intensives, but what sets them apart and makes GU unique is their two-and-a-half day Leader 101 trainings. This intensive course is designed to amplify the passion, enthusiasm, commitment and connectedness in your life.

The monthly classes have received amazing testimonials, and CEO’s in the Valley are even putting their employees in the program. Once completed, the attendees can go onto Leader 202, Communication 101 and 202. The Mastery Curriculum is designed to build strong leaders and passionate employees.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Enchantment Resort in Sedona - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Studies Show That Every Dollar Invested In Tourism Returns At Least Double That Amount

Forests of Saguaro cacti lit by fiery red and orange sunsets, gun-toting cowboys staging shoot-outs, and the Grand Canyon’s striated walls looming over the Colorado River.

One would think these distinctly Arizona images could sell themselves. Unfortunately, Arizona’s tourism industry is learning the hard way that it takes more than just the state’s natural beauty and attractions to bring in visitors — it takes dollars.

“That’s why we need to be out there marketing Arizona, reminding people about what a great, wonderful, warm, welcoming destination we are,” says Debbie Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Tourism Alliance and president and CEO of the Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association.

The recession caused Arizona’s once vibrant tourism industry to flounder, and in 2009, the stigma related to the corporate meetings industry continued the industry’s downward spiral.

“We weren’t just feeling the pain like everybody else. We were getting hit much more significantly than the nation overall,” says Mitch Nichols, president of Nichols Tourism Group, which provides research services to the tourism industry.

Visitor spending in Arizona decreased 10.6 percent, while the nation saw a decrease of just 4.4 percent, from 2007 to 2009. Additionally, Arizona lost $780 million in potential visitor spending because its share of national travel expenditures dropped from 2005 to 2008, according to Nichols Tourism Group.

In early 2010, the state Legislature dealt the industry a one-two punch when it passed SB 1070 and redirected funds from the Arizona Office of Tourism’s (AOT) budget to the general fund.

The Legislature redirected the tourism formula fund, which is composed of 3.5 percent of the state’s bed tax, 3 percent of the state’s amusement tax, and 2 percent of the state’s restaurant tax. This redirection will take approximately $28 million away from AOT over the 2011 and 2012 fiscal years.

In November 2010, the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank, announced more bad news for Arizona’s tourism industry. In a study, it was reported that the controversial SB 1070 bill had cost the state $141.4 million in lost spending.

However, the industry isn’t down for the count.

Led by the Arizona Tourism Alliance, the tourism industry is campaigning to reclaim the budget, which it believes will help pull Arizona out of the recession and return millions of visitors to Arizona.




Arizona Inn in Tucson

Photo: Arizona Inn




While the long-term effects of SB 1070 on the tourism industry are hard to quantify, the budget redirection is projected to cost Arizona big.

Even the most conservative estimate puts the state’s losses at $26.7 million, but “actual revenue losses could potentially be many times this amount,” according to an independent study by Elliot D. Pollack & Co.

Nichols Tourism Group estimates the state could lose as much as $1.6 billion.

“You’re not finding $14 million. You’re creating a much bigger hole that will have to be funded in the future,” Nichols says.

The redirection of money decimated AOT’s marketing budget, allowing other states to sneak in and steal Arizona’s market share. These states recently discovered the tourism industry’s power to pull a state out of the recession.

“Some of our key competitors, California in particular, got much more aggressive in terms of the resources they were spending to try and convince visitors to choose California,” Nichols says.

Arizona is becoming out of sight, out of mind, and statistics prove it, Johnson adds.

From January to August 2010, the daily rate for Arizona hotel rooms declined 4.4 percent, while the nation’s daily rate only declined by 1 percent, and California’s daily rate declined by 1.1 percent, according to Nichols Tourism Group.

“Too often there’s a mindset that people will come whether or not you advertise. And we’ve got to increasingly ensure that kind of mindset does not carry the day,” Nichols says.

To remedy the industry’s declining revenue, Arizona’s Legislature needs to be reminded of what tourism means to the state. Tourism brings in revenue that funds education and many of the public services that are necessary during recessionary times.

The return on investment for every dollar spent on tourism marketing is seven to one, out-of-state studies show, according to the Pollack study.

In addition to pulling in revenue, the tourism industry directly and indirectly employs around 300,000 Arizonans, about 10 percent of the state’s work force.

Two key pieces of Arizona’s future, the economy and the work force, depend upon tourism. If the budget is restored, and soon, Arizona can rebound to pre-recession numbers within five years, Johnson says.

“Our destination has shown … that we can come back from adversity,” Johnson says. “We saw that after 9/11. (We were) one of the top five destinations, in terms of rebounding. I think we’re going to see that again because of what we have to offer, because we do have such a strong industry here. We’re a united industry. We work together and we come together in times like this. I think you’re going to see Arizona rebound.”

AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Ted and Cindy Ferkenhoff

Boefly, A New Online Marketplace, Matches Borrowers With Lenders

One couple searched unsuccessfully for six months to secure a loan. Then, 14 days after using a new online marketplace, Ted and Cindy Ferkenhoff had an offer.

The Ferkenhoffs, who needed a loan to open an AlphaGraphics franchise in Flagstaff, weren’t expecting such a quick response.

“With the lending market being pretty shaken up … it was a little surprising that they contacted us and did so, so quickly,” Ted Ferkenhoff said.

It was Mark Danford, executive vice president of the loan-consulting firm FranFund, who introduced the Ferkenhoffs’ loan request to BoeFly, the online marketplace. Danford, who has used BoeFly since its inception on March 17, 2010, decided that BoeFly was the most efficient way to connect the Ferkenhoffs to an appropriate lender.

BoeFly, which is headquartered in New York City, works much like an online dating service, but instead it matches lenders with borrowers.

“We see websites and technology efficiently matching up a whole world of people,” said Michael Rozman, executive vice president of BoeFly. “Matching up boys and girls looking for dates, down to travel and consumer mortgages. It became apparent to us that small business lending would greatly benefit from a service like ours.”

In an online marketplace setting, borrowers can submit their financing request and have almost 500 lenders see it immediately, Rozman said.

The speed at which lenders and borrowers can see results is what inspired the name BoeFly.

BOE stands for business opportunity exchange, Rozman said.

“It’s an exchange that allows businesses to connect more efficiently, and the idea of adding on the fly is a mix of how quickly transactions can fly through the system with a little bit of whimsy behind it,” he added.

It also helps professionals like Danford by saving them time. BoeFly allows him to connect “almost instantaneously” with lenders.

“It’s a night and day difference,” Rozman said.

Transactions with BoeFly are quick, but the main goal is to also make sure the appropriate lenders see the loan requests. Lenders range from small to large institutions all over the country, with six small community banks in Arizona using BoeFly. On average, a submitted loan request will see six to 12 loan offers through BoeFly, Rozman said.

Not only is BoeFly more efficient than the one-by-one approach of lending, but it can also help franchisees and small businesses owners who aren’t familiar with the lending process.

Rozman said he wants to see the word spread about BoeFly, so more small businesses can “leverage BoeFly to end up with business loans.”

The Ferkenhoffs are doing their part to inform others about their success with BoeFly.

“We have passed that around and, of course, given the feedback to AlphaGraphics,” Ferkenhoff said. “Obviously they’re looking for the best method to get new franchising funded.”

With $1.2 billion in transactions since its start, Rozman said he sees BoeFly continuing to grow as people recognize the ease of the online process.

“More and more banks realize that their clients are turning to the Web to be able to more efficiently connect with lenders,” Rozman said. “Banks historically aren’t the earliest adopters of technology, but they do when their clients lead them in that direction.”

The Ferkenhoffs are set to open their AlphaGraphics this month.

Monument Valley in Arizona, part of the Arizona Office of Tourism's new marketing campaign - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Arizona Launches Innovative Media Campaign To Bring Back Tourists

Arizona has gotten a bad rap as of late, with the added national backlash from the passage of SB 1070 making it even tougher for the state to climb out of the recession. But the Arizona Office of Tourism is fighting back, and it has only one word for you — monumental.

It’s part of the Arizona Office of Tourism’s “In One Word — Arizona” marketing campaign that launched Nov. 8. The campaign couples iconic images of Arizona with one word describing the image. Bet you can guess which image is paired with “grand.”

The campaign’s eight images, ranging from the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley to Sedona and Flagstaff’s distinctive terrains, will run from November 2010 to May 2011 primarily in Chicago and Los Angeles, the two major markets for Arizona tourism.

This campaign features traditional print, TV and radio ads, but also includes innovative strategies, such as video-on-demand, “wallscapes” on buildings in Chicago and Los Angeles, and versions of the ads appearing on the print-out boarding passes of eight major airlines.

The advertising is “layered to continue to drive home the wonders and the diversity of Arizona,” says Sherry Henry, director of the Arizona Office of Tourism.

Spreading the message of Arizona’s allure is not limited to the Hollywood Hills and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. An extensive digital media campaign also will run in San Francisco, Denver, New York City and other major markets, as well as Mexico and Canada.

But the biggest accomplishment of AOT’s new campaign is the fact that despite intense budget cuts that practically erased the marketing budget, the campaign is forging ahead, focused on bringing in much-needed tourism to the state.

The state Legislature removed revenue from the tourism formula from AOT’s budget and placed it in the general fund. Because of this shift, the AOT will receive approximately $14 million less in the 2011 fiscal year than it received in the 2010 fiscal year.

“We have this budget, and we are going to make this budget stand like it is 10 times what we have,” Henry says, adding that AOT’s mission is “to use the dollars we do have to drive as much revenue as we can.”

The budget stress isn’t the only issue facing Arizona’s tourism industry. The recession, which caused the budget decrease, is the No. 1 issue, Henry says. The swine flu epidemic of 2009 hurt, as well as the “AIG effect,” in which big businesses cut down on holding corporate meetings at resorts. Then, boycotts from the passage of SB 1070 gave a further beating to an already crippled industry.

However, Henry says Arizona’s tourism is going to surge back because of the state’s well-established image and the strong partnerships within the tourism industry.

“The branding of Arizona hasn’t changed,” Henry says. “There are some misconceptions of what’s happening here, but it hasn’t really affected the Arizona we all know and love.”

AOT has partnered with local convention and visitor bureaus and the Arizona Tourism Alliance to reach the group-and-meeting tourism market. The relationships between all sectors of Arizona’s tourism industry are “stronger than any other state we know of,” Henry says.

Although 2009 saw a 10.2 percent decrease in travel expenditures and a 2.1 million decrease in overnight visitors, 35.3 million visitors still made Arizona their destination of choice.

Statistics show that in 2010, top-of-the-line leisure traveler numbers are up, Henry says. AOT identifies leisure travelers as Arizona’s target visitor.

“We’re finally beginning to see it creep up again,” Henry says of visitor numbers.




Arizona Office of Tourism's new campaign

Images courtesy of the Arizona Office of Tourism




AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Steve Chucri, president and CEO Arizona Restaurant Association - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Q&A Steve Chucri, President and CEO Arizona Restaurant Association

-In 2002, Steve Chucri was lobbying at the state level when the Arizona Restaurant Association president and CEO position was presented to him. Chucri now uses his political and lobbyist backgrounds to help Arizona’s restaurant industry navigate today’s tough issues. An executive committee board member with the Arizona Tourism Alliance, Chucri discusses strategies to create workable solutions to many issues affecting his industry.

Could the recession have been worse for the restaurant industry?
I always think it can be worse, because you don’t know worse unless you’re in it. That being said, yes, the economic hit, the recessionary hit to our industry was substantial. It may not be as substantial as to other elements of the tourism industry, but when you have the closing of restaurants double from normal times during this recessionary time, that’s pretty substantial. … I’m not going to say we were the worst or we were the most impacted, but there has been a huge impact from the most experienced restaurateur to the novices of the industry. Both were equally hit.

How have the arizona restaurant Association and the arizona tourism alliance been working together to get through the recession?
Restaurants over the recent years have become more and more dependent on tourist dollars. The receipts show that. About 25 percent of our receipts from restaurants are coming from tourists. … I think what we’ve been able to work on with both organizations is how do we continue to work together and make Arizona a destination? We’re becoming more and more known for our culinary fare.

Second to that, we’ve also worked legislatively together to ensure we’re not being targeted for miscellaneous taxes and we’re not getting targeted as an industry when it comes to funding issues, especially the Arizona Office of Tourism.

What challenges do you see facing the restaurant industry in 2011?
I see an increase in costs. We’ve been fortunate to maintain costs at a low level because of the recession, but I’m getting concerned that if things do start to pick up we will see costs starting to rise. I feel as though the smallest of things, the profitability of a restaurant, is very, very low and it doesn’t take much. You can’t just go to your menu and start raising prices in an economy like this. … I think we’re going to make a real push to see how we can get rid of that CPI (consumer price index) component with the minimum wage, but I don’t want to dwell too much on that, as we’re still in the strategic phases.

On the good side too, I believe that people are going to realize, yes we’re in a recessionary time but restaurants essentially are on sale right now. … I see people also realizing, like I said on the positive side, that it isn’t all that expensive to go out to eat.

How has Arizona’s restaurant industry been recovering from the recession?
In many, many ways, across many segments of our industry, it’s been at a snail’s pace. … I will tell you that 2010, from the quick-serve industry all the way to fine dining, it has been better than 2009. Now, that’s not universal, but the increases we are seeing are at a snail’s pace.

I think the wish, if there was one, of the industry would be that growth would pick up a little more quickly. Not at the crazy pace we were going at back in 2006, 2005, but something that is more meaningful and can be measured. … I think that restaurants are doing all they can to make sure that happens by offering these terrific deals and really using a lot of ingenuity and happy hours.

Restaurants are really good at incentivizing and getting people to come in. I think we’ll always continue to see that happen. … If restaurants can grow and if our industry can grow back up to the 4 percent or 5 percent and it’s sustainable each month and it’s sustainable on a consistent basis, you’d see a lot of smiles on restaurateurs’ faces.

Arizona Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Sea Life Interior

Paramount Promotions Puts Its Products On The National Stage

Each year Paramount Promotions transforms the University of Phoenix Stadium from the home of the Arizona Cardinals into the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl with colorful and eye-catching graphics.

 

 

Paramount Promotions Tostitos

Photo: Paramount Promotions

 

 

Phoenix-based Paramount Promotions designs and manufactures most of the graphic signs, banners and inflatables for the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl held in Glendale annually.

The company created 25-foot tall inflatable Tostitos chip bags for the Fiesta Bowl, along with most of the banners and signs in the University of Phoenix stadium that can be seen during the game.

The 2011 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl was the second year of a five-year agreement between Paramount Promotions and the Fiesta Bowl. In addition to the Fiesta Bowl, Paramount Promotions also creates graphic signs for the Insight Bowl, held in Tempe at Sun Devil Stadium each year. The company also created graphic banners for the University of Arizona’s football stadium.

“Working with bowl games have always been probably my favorite,” says Brad Bergamo, president of Paramount Promotions. “It’s always fun to go in and take a stadium and completely change the look of it. … So, you go from a stadium that’s just a lot of concrete, colorless, to having a lot of color and graphics.”

Although making over the stadiums is Bergamo’s favorite project, Paramount Promotions does much more.

The company, which was established in 1992, also designs and manufactures wraps for boats, cars, trailers, golf carts and more, all at its Phoenix location.

Paramount Promotions produces light boxes, banners, billboards, fence wraps, window graphics, inflatables, flatbed boards and more that can be seen across the country. The company also makes “fly guys,” the dancing or wiggling inflatable “men” often seen on the side of the road.

Paramount Promotions, which employs 11 people, serves clients nationwide, but about 85 percent of the company’s business comes from Arizona companies and individuals, Bergamo says.

 

 

Sea Life Exterior

Photo: Paramount Promotions

 

 

Another large project Paramount Promotions undertook was creating all of the signs and wall graphics for the Sea Life Aquarium at Arizona Mills.

With the use of digital printing machine, the Nur Expedic, Paramount Promotions prints an average of 1,800 square feet per hour. At that speed, the company could wrap 30 semi-trucks per day.

Even though Paramount Promotions works with large clients such as the Fiesta Bowl and the University of Arizona, it also offers many services for individuals and small companies.

Currently, the most common product for individual clients is canvas paintings of personal photos. The company has also done life-sized wall graphics — similar to Fathead sports wall graphics — of individuals or their children playing sports.

One of the more creative ways people use Paramount Promotions is to create a large graphic photo, whether it be of the beach, mountains or snow, to cover the boring brick walls that are so common in Phoenix.

“We’re pretty diverse right now. So as of right now, we’re not looking to expand into other products or services,” Bergamo says. “We’re trying to specialize in what we do now.”

The company has been growing steadily, even in the recent down economy, Bergamo adds. In the fall of 2010, Paramount Promotions acquired MonsterColor, a local, large-format printer. The acquisition has expanded Paramount’s capabilities.

Dr. Ben Bocchicchio

Get Fit Quick With Dr. Ben Bocchicchio’s 15 Minute Workout

I’ll be honest; the thought of hopping on a treadmill or sweating through push-ups will easily evoke a “Do I really have to?” whine from me.

But when I heard about a magical workout – 15 minutes, just two days a week – I thought it couldn’t get any easier. I was wrong.

Dr. Vincent “Ben” Bocchicchio’s workout is just that, work. For 15 to 20 solid minutes, you push your muscles to failure. But it’s worth it. I’ve never felt my muscles working that clearly or been so sore the next day from a short workout.

Bocchicchio, a veteran health and fitness expert, has trained celebrities like Christie Brinkley, world-class athletes and regular Joes during his 40 years in the business. His scientifically proven resistance training method involves “[instigating] the certain chemistry that is correlated to benefits” of exercise, Bocchicchio says.

He calls his exercise The SMART Exercise Program, which stands for Slow Maximum Response Training. Slow movements allow for maximum muscle stimulation and optimal metabolic response in the regimented training sessions.

Bocchicchio presented a study of 100 people comparing his exercise to cardio training over a five-week period to the International Congress of the American Physiological Society and American College of Sports Medicine. The study showed that his subjects saw more benefits than those who did more than three hours of cardio weekly. His patients, ages 18 to 74, reduced their body fat by 20 percent, while the other group had only a 1 percent reduction in body fat.

His exercise regiment is not only successful; it’s also sustainable.

“You can sustain this kind of lifestyle commitment for years. I have some people that have done this system almost 40 years,” he says.

When I saw Bocchicchio, I knew his method would work. He’s buff, almost intimidating, until you engage him in conversation. As a person who doesn’t work out, ever, I was scared at the thought of pushing my muscles to failure with the help of a muscular man who might not show mercy. But with Dr. Ben’s genuine encouragement I got through the whole 20 minutes without crying.

First, Bocchicchio explained to me why his exercise routine is successful.

“People ask me what’s the best exercise they can do, and I say it’s the one that you will do,” he says. “What I tried to do is eliminate the hurdles that people put up for exercising.”

The three main reasons people don’t work out are because they don’t have time, they don’t want to get injured and they don’t see results; Bocchicchio has eliminated all of these excuses, he says.

The injury rate is zero because of the slow movements he teaches – which make the workout grueling but effective. The workout is so effective that his clients can see results within two to three weeks, he says. Finally, there’s the pesky element of time, to which Bocchicchio shows no mercy.

“If you can’t give me 15, 20 minutes twice a week, then you’re just making excuses,” Bocchicchio says.

After an introduction to his methods, I stopped making excuses.

I did much better than I thought I would. I was actually impressed with the strength I didn’t know I had. The next day soreness was high, but Dr. Ben says that decreases with time.

You can learn Bocchicchio’s method at a free seminar on Jan. 8. The seminar includes a body composition test, exercise demonstrations, lessons on what to eat, what not to eat and more.

If You Go:

      Doctor’s Fitness Center
      2394 E. Camelback Road
      Phoenix, Ariz. 85016
      Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
      Reservations required
      Call 480-206-5017

Dr. Ben’s Metabolic Makeover website

Exercise

AZNow.Biz Launches Health And Wellness Series For The New Year

One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to become a healthier version of you in the next year. For some people that may mean hitting the gym, for some it means putting down the cupcake and picking up an apple, but however you intend to get healthy, AZNow.Biz’s Health & Wellness Series has something for you.

We sent our team out into the world of gyms, diets and lifestyle changes to pick out a few options to share with you. From CrossFit to Weight Watchers, we’ve got something you can use.

Part One: Monique Zatcoff, an ASU journalism student, checks out CrossFit Scottsdale, which focuses on high-intensity and strength building exercises.

Part Two: Shelby Hill, always one to shy away from gyms and exercising, tries out Dr. Ben Bocchocchio’s metabolic makeover.

Part Three: The first step to being a healthier version of you requires eating the right foods to better your health and possibly help you lose weight. We’ll let you know which “super foods” can do it all.

Part Four: Michael A. Covalciuc, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Mayo Executive Health Program at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, shares how to treat digestive symptoms…with a gluten-free diet.

Part Five: Alan Leibowitz, chief academic officer at Banner Health, shares fitness exercise guru Jack Lalanne’s healthy lifestyle…and how you can do it, too.

Part Six: Dana Wentzel, regular hiker and outdoor enthusiast, shares his first experience at Massage Envy. (January 31)

Part Seven: Kristine Cannon, Assistant Web Editor for AZ Big Media, fills us in on “yogic sleep,” which helps to relieve stress, enhance health and redirect unwanted habits and patterns, among other things. (February 7)

Part Eight: Tom Milton, a partner in the consulting and lobbying firm of Bilsten & Associates, shares his Weight Watchers success story. (February 14)

Check back for more in our Health & Wellness Series.

i/o Data Centers

i/o Data Centers Keeps Companies Nationwide Up And Running

Despite an ongoing recessionary climate, Phoenix-based i/o Data Centers just keeps on growing and doesn’t plan on stopping.

In the last year i/o doubled its number of employees and is looking to expand its Phoenix location. In Oct., i/o announced it closed $200 million in financing for the company’s expansions.

In addition to its Phoenix and Scottsdale centers, i/o wants to establish locations throughout the U.S., as well as manufacture modular data centers, called i/o ANYWHERE, that would allow data center capacity anywhere a customer needs it. The modular data centers would be manufactured in Arizona, adding to i/o’s employment capabilities within the state.

The i/o Data Centers in Phoenix are co-location data centers, which means individual companies hire i/o to store and secure their data at an i/o facility. Approximately 400 companies store their data in i/o’s two Arizona locations.

The impression that i/o stores data is misleading, the company is merely the keeper of the outside package not the internal information, says Jason Ferrara, vice president of marketing at i/o Data Centers.

“You can say i/o stores data, and that’s where I think confusion comes into play,” Ferrara says. “We don’t touch anyone’s data. … We don’t have access to your data, which is a really important thing because the companies we deal with here are literally some of the biggest in the world.”

Its clients, companies such as AAA Insurance and Fender Musical Instruments, “have a competitive advantage by being here,” Ferrara says. Some companies refuse to be named as an i/o client because it gives them a large competitive edge.

“Really what i/o does is we just allow other companies to do their business,” Ferrara says. “We provide them with the infrastructure, the power, the cooling, the network and the access control so that they can conduct their IT operations without failure.”

By using back-up power sources, an evaporative cooling system, and maintaining tight-as-Fort-Knox security, i/o ensures its clients will never go offline.

“They can effectively conduct business 24 by seven by forever,” he says.

Round-the-clock power and flawless security are particularly important for companies such as banks that allow clients to make payments or transfers online, or a company that stores personal information, such as credit card numbers.

Ferrara says Arizona is a perfect place for a data center because of three reasons – Arizona is an exporter of power, which means i/o will never go without power; Arizona is business-friendly; and finally Arizona is free from environmental threats like earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and tornadoes.

Although many people question the efficiency of running a data center – known to produce a large amount of heat – in one of the hottest cities in the nation, i/o uses a fairly green method of cooling, Ferrara says.

Evaporative cooling systems, which are more effective than air conditioning systems at keeping temperatures low, cool its data centers. Other green practices include LED lighting and variable frequency dry fans, which only operate at the frequency necessary to keep the room at a particular temperature.

In addition to keeping the temperature at a certain level, i/o also uses ultrasonic humidification devices to prevent static electricity from creating a spark and causing an outage, Ferarra says.

“That’s our goal – is uptime – keeping our customers’ computer systems online all the time. And they pay a lot of money for that.”

The Canalscape Project Beautifying The Phoenix-Area Canals

The Canalscape Project Envisions Beautifying The Phoenix-Area’s Many Canals

Forget “The Valley of the Sun.” Imagine “The Venice of the Southwest.”

It’s an idea that’s hard to fathom now, especially when most Valley residents think of canals as “ugly, smelly and dangerous,” says Nan Ellin, a former Arizona State University professor who conceived Canalscape with her students.

Canalscape is a concept that encourages Phoenicians to embrace the canals that give life to the desert by developing “places of urban vitality” where major streets meet canals, Ellin says.

Despite the canals’ bad reputation, Valley Forward Association and Ellin see a bright, watery future for Phoenix. With more than 181 miles of canals, Phoenix has more of such waterways than Venice and Amsterdam combined. But unlike their European counterparts, canals in Phoenix are not a vital part of the city’s culture.

“The canals used to be the front porch and they became the back alleys,” with the urban sprawl of the 1960s and 1970s, Ellin says.

Valley Forward is committed to transforming the canals from eyesores to amenities, says Jay Hicks, chair-elect of Valley Forward.

“Canalscape represents the next evolution of Valley Forward being able to really bring their membership to a project,” Hicks says.

He adds that the diversity of Valley Forward’s members will help establish connections and relationships between cities, developers, the Salt River Project and other entities to push Canalscape forward.

Currently, the Canalscape project is in the research and discussion stages in Valley Forward’s land use and open space committee. By the end of this year, Valley Forward hopes to create a separate Canalscape committee to allow all of Valley Forward’s members to participate in the creation process, says George Pasquel III, chair of the land use and open space committee.

Canalscape fits perfectly with two of Valley Forward’s goals — promoting sustainability and giving Phoenicians a high quality of life, Hicks says.

Two important aspects of the Canalscape vision are to bring nature into the city by not hardscaping the selected areas, and to keep the ground level spaces public to attract visitors.

“When the ground floor is public, it’s saying welcome,” Ellin notes.

Each “canalscaped” location would have a unique look. The Canalscape developments could range from a naturally landscaped public recreation area to a public school to small urban hubs complete with restaurants, grocery stores and dry cleaners, Ellin says.

Canalscape’s urban centers would create a lifestyle in which walking, biking and mass transit replace cars as the main modes of transportation, thus making the Valley more sustainable and increasing the quality of life, Ellin says.

Currently, there are several locations being considered for Canalscape’s pilot project, but no decisions have been made.

“The best location for a pilot project is whatever location can get implemented the fastest, have the most positive public impact and be the greatest catalyst for future locations,” Pasquel says.

Gateway Community College, which houses the Canalscape Exhibit, is a possible location and GCC President Eugene Giovannini says he hopes the college is chosen.

“I can’t think of another area in the city that is more worthy of the initial pilot project (to) move (Canalscape) forward, because of its location as it relates to mass transit and an underserved, underdeveloped area in the city,” Giovannini says.

The METRO Light Rail’s 38th Street stop at Gateway Community College will connect to Sky Harbor International Airport’s tram when it is completed. As a result, the stop becomes the front door to the city for visitors, and the city should roll out an attractive welcome mat, Giovannini says.

Whichever location is chosen, Pasquel says he hopes to see Canalscape fully developed in the coming decade.

“I’d like (the canal system) to be an active part of the Valley that’s not so ignored, that people … actually think of it as a thoroughfare that connects areas,” he says.

Canalscape connects the Valley, while also maintaining each community’s uniqueness by involving a “combination of urban and nature, and a combination of live, work, play that you don’t see anywhere else in the Valley,” Ellin says.

“So it would really improve the quality of life … and overall it would really enhance the reputation of the Phoenix metropolitan region.”

16th Street and Indian School Road proposed by Jens Kolb

The intersection of 16th Street and Indian School Road as proposed by Jens Kolb.


16th st and indian school exisiting canal

The intersection of 16th Street and Indian School Road as it exists today.


Metrocenter Proposed by Nicholas Glover

Metro Center as proposed by Nicholas Glover.


metro center today

Metro Center as it exists today.

Touchdown AZ Magazine and website

Touchdown AZ Is Your Source For All Things College Football

College football season is almost over for most teams and cities. But luckily, here in Arizona, the season isn’t officially over until Jan. 10, 2011, when Glendale hosts the BCS National Championship Game.

This year Arizona will host three games – the Insight Bowl in Tempe, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl and the BCS National Championship Game, both in Glendale.

Touchdown AZ and TouchdownAZ.com are your ultimate guides to Arizona’s bowl games. Whether you’re a visitor or resident, we’ve got something for you.

With so many games and teams taking over metro Phoenix, Touchdown AZ is the perfect place to discover where to eat, stay and play. Touchdown AZ recommends great places to snag a pre- or post-game bite in Glendale, Tempe, Phoenix, Scottsdale and more.

Plus, if you want to explore all that Arizona has to offer from the Old Pueblo of Tucson to the pine trees of Flagstaff, Touchdown AZ has all the right places to go. There’s never a dull moment when you let Touchdown AZ be your guide.

We also know where to party – block party, that is. Both Tempe and Glendale host family friendly block parties full of fun and excitement. If you’re looking for the history of the cities hosting the games, or the games themselves, Touchdown AZ is your one-stop-shop. Want the 2011 season conference realignments explained? We’ve got you covered.

If you’re looking to take in all the blood, sweat and tears the NCAA football bowls have to offer, visit TouchdownAZ.com.

On Dec. 6, the TouchdownAZ.com will be updated to reflect the teams chosen to battle it out in each bowl game.

Pick up a Copy:

Tempe Tourism Office
51 W. Third St. #105
Tempe, Ariz. 85281
800-283-6734

Glendale Convention & Visitors Bureau
5800 W. Glenn Dr. #140
Glendale, Ariz. 85301
877-800-2601

Various hotels in Glendale, Tempe, Peoria and Scottsdale

Shop Cyber Monday Deals

Cyber Monday Deals For 2010

We all know – and sometimes dread – Black Friday. But Cyber Monday is something even the most antisocial person can get behind.

Cyber Monday allows you to shop from the comfort of your computer. No need to even change out of those pajamas.

Check out these smoking deals online.

BestBuy.com

Best Buy has great Black Friday deals, but Best Buy’s Cyber deals last for two days (Sunday & Monday).

  • Get ready for some amazing Cyber Monday deals on everything from navigation devices to fridges.
  • Plus, free shipping on orders of $25 or more, so it’s like you went out and bought it yourself, but without all that hassle.


Overstock.com

Overstock.com has anything from women’s boots to magazine subscriptions to iPods.

  • You’ll have to wait until 10 p.m. (midnight Eastern Standard time) Sunday to view Overstock’s Cyber Monday deals. But you can sign up on Facebook to receive an exclusive look at the deals. And Overstock is offering a mobile app for those who can’t wait by their computers for Cyber Monday deals.


Walmart.com

Walmart is known for its rollback prices but you can expect even better deals on Cyber Monday.

  • The deals can’t be seen yet, but visit Walmart.com and bookmark the page to be ready when it strikes midnight on Cyber Monday.


Target.com

Like Target’s Black Friday deals, its Cyber Monday deals are just as top secret. But take a look at Target’s Cyber Monday Web site and you can sign up to get exclusive e-mail steals.

Buy.com

Visit Buy.com for steals and deals on almost anything imaginable. Visit the Web site to see the Cyber Monday offerings.

Shop local stores in the Phoenix area for the holidays

Shop Local For The Holidays

We all know major department stores have big holiday sales, but so do local stores.

Local stores also have the added bonus of being good for your conscience. They’re greener – many of their products aren’t shipped in from all over the world – and they help the local economy more than chain stores. See our recent Local First Shift Arizona article.

If you’re looking to shop local this holiday season, here’s a few Phoenix-area shops to help you on your search for the perfect  Hanukkah, Christmas or Christmakkah gift.

1. Souvia Tea

Souvia Tea is stocked with more than 140 teas and gifts for tea lovers. Souvia Tea is part of Local First Arizona’s Buy Local Week that offers deals on local products from Nov. 26 to Dec. 5.

15414 N. 7th St. Ste. 8
Phoenix, Ariz. 85022
(602) 938-1216

2. Natural Paws

For the month of November, Natural Paws is discounting all Web sales 10 percent and offering free shipping. Natural Paws is part of Local First Arizona’s Buy Local Week that offers deals on local products from Nov. 26 to Dec. 5.

3. Pink House Boutique

Pink House Boutique is a one-of-a-kind co-op bursting with home décor, recycled, new and vintage clothing, and much more. The boutique also features local designer Bri Bridge.

7009 N. 58th Ave.
Glendale, Ariz. 85301
(623) 298-1766

4. SeeSaw Designs

Find unique stationary, prints and calendars at SeeSaw Designs.

6125 E. Indian School Road Ste. 2009
Scottsdale, Ariz.  85251
(480) 284-4987

5. Embellish Home

Give the gift of embellishment from Embellish Home. The store offers everything from decorative crowns to whimsical tea towels.

5202 N. 7th St.
Phoenix, Ariz. 85014
(602) 277-1499

6. Frances & 7. Smeeks

Here’s a double dose of local. Frances and Smeeks, both owned by the same woman and located on the same stretch of Camelback Road, are chalk full of everything from vintage candy to clothes to paper goods.

Frances
10 W. Camelback Road
Phoenix, Ariz. 85013
(602) 279-5463

Smeeks
14 W. Camelback Road
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 279-0538

8. Sphinx Ranch

For the foodie in your life, look no further than Sphinx Ranch. The shop specializes in gift baskets, but you can pick up anything from Arizona wines to chips and salsa produced locally at their store.

3039 N. Scottsdale Road
Scottsdale, Ariz. 85251
(480) 941-2261

9. Maria Funicello Jewelry Designs

If your gal likes to shine, check out Maria Funicello Jewelry Designs. These beautifully crafted silver pieces are sure to wow her this holiday season.

10. Etsy.com

Etsy.com is the perfect place to shop several shops at a time. Just use Etsy’s Geolocator to find sellers in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Flagstaff, Tucson and many more cities. You can find practically anything from a local seller on Etsy, from aprons to jewelry to soap to home furnishings.

Here’s a few Arizona Etsy sellers to check out:

Petite Bonfire – Sewn goods, Tucson
Wing Flash – Jewelry, Tucson
Rose & Root – Soaps, Phoenix
The Tom Kat Studio – Party supplies, Chandler
Jason Hill Design – Artwork, Phoenix
Mommy’s Little Monsters – Children’s clothing, Phoenix
Nesta Home – Home decor, Phoenix
Pink Dandy Shop – Bath and cosmetic products, Phoenix
Spinup Yarns – Yarn, Flagstaff
Red Canyon Glass – Glassware, Flagstaff

Visit Local First’s Web site for a list of local shops and Tucson shops participating in Buy Local Week.

Use Amazon to help you shop this holiday season

Amazon And Twitter Are Resources For Savvy Shoppers This Weekend

There are many Web resources for the frugal shopper, like Groupon, LivingSocial, SocialBuy and BuyWithMe, but there are still ways to save on the Web without printing a coupon.

Amazon

Amazon’s daily Gold Box deals were intensified this week with the addition of Black Friday Week Lightning Deals. Everything from atlases to car seats were available at an immensely discounted price for a short period of time and in limited quantities.

Black Friday deals at Amazon include ridiculously cheap DVDs, diamond earrings and even a Martha Stewart electronic cake cutting system – as if you didn’t already have one of those.

After Thanksgiving’s shop-till-you-drop marathon, Amazon’s Gold Box deals are available every day. You can sign up to receive daily e-mails or texts about the Gold Box deal, or you can follow the deal on Twitter.

Twitter

Twitter is another resource for shoppers this weekend.

If you’re a little behind the game and are still looking for Black Friday deals, try searching #blackfriday. No doubt people will be tweeting about their finds and stores will probably still be tweeting about their promotions.

Search #cybermonday and you’ll find people tweeting about deals. Check out the following Twitter pages for links to some great Cyber Monday deals.


If you still want to save after the holiday weekend, Twitter can still be a great resource.

For example, @RetailMeNot shares coupons for more than 65,000 retailers worldwide. You can also visit the Web site if you’re looking for a specific coupon.

Willing to search through thousands of tweets to find a deal? CheapTweet.com is the right place for you. The site indexes the deals on Twitter and allows you to search for deals by category and store.

If you’d like to learn more about how to use Groupon, read AZNow.Biz’s Groupon article.

Black Friday deals in Arizona

2010 Black Friday Deals

It’s almost Black Friday – get ready for crowded malls, packed parking lots and maybe even a bit of elbowing for that amazing deal.

The malls will be teeming with eager shoppers hungry for a deal, especially since the National Retail Federation predicted a holiday sales increase of 2.3 percent this year. That’s a big bump since last year there was only a .4 percent holiday sales increase.

Most, if not all, major chains are slashing prices in an attempt to boost this year’s retail sales. Some stores are even keeping their Black Friday deals going through the weekend or they’re open Thanksgiving Day.

Apple

Apple’s having Cyber Monday sales on Black Friday. Apple announced at one-day shopping event on Black Friday for the online store only. The announcement says: “You’ll find dozens of great iPad, iPod, and Mac gifts for everyone on your list.”

Macy’s

Open: 4 a.m.
Locations
Preview:

  • All remote-controlled helicopters are 60 percent off.
  • Selected bedding is 60 to 70 percent off.
  • Stock up on selected Christmas ornaments that are 50 percent off.

See the deals

Kohl’s

Open: Shop online Thanksgiving Day until 2 p.m. Stores open at 3 a.m. on Black Friday.
Locations
Preview:

  • Half off selected Fisher-Price, Playskool, Barbie and other children’s toys.
  • Selected fashion jewelry 50 to 60 percent off.
  • Save more than 50 percent on selected cookware sets.

See the deals

Best Buy

Open: 5 a.m. – But, to get these deals tickets will be handed out starting 2 hours prior to open. Tickets are necessary to buy certain products.
Locations
Preview:

  • Save $1,000 on an LG washer and dryer set.
  • Save $25 on several EA Sports Xbox360 and PS3 games.
  • Save $30 on Wii consoles.

See the deals

Target

Open: 4 a.m.
Locations
Preview:

  • Target is being rather tight-lipped about their Black Friday deals. All we know is Target’s having a two-day sale, Nov. 26 and 27, and you can sign up to get an e-mail alert about the Black Friday deals. You can also get alerts for Target’s Cyber Monday deals. But don’t worry if you forget, we’ll remind you again.

See the deals

For those who just can’t wait until Friday, Kmart and Sears are open Thanksgiving Day at 7 a.m. and 6 a.m., respectively.

Kmart

Open: 5 a.m. (Note: “Blue” Friday deals last from 5 – 11 a.m.)
Locations
Preview:

  • Six-foot Christmas tree for $19.99.
  • Billiard or air hockey table with table tennis attachment for $189.99.
  • Kids’ graphic tees for $2.99.

See the deals

Lowe’s

Open: 12:01 a.m. Nov. 25 (Yes, that’s one minute after midnight on Thanksgiving) online. 5 a.m. Nov. 26 in stores.
Locations
Preview:

  • DeWalt cordless drill with case for $99.
  • Frigidaire eight-bottle wine cooler for $49.
  • Skil 10-inch compound miter saw for $59.
  • Deals valid from Nov. 26 – 29.

See the deals

More Black Friday resources:
BFInsider.com | MyBlackFriday.com | 2010BlackFridayAds.com | BlackFriday.org

Auction Systems had TLC show - Auctioneer$

Phoenix Auction House Spends Time In The Television Limelight

From businesses to bulldozers, anything can be sold at auction — and all with the trademark bang of a gavel.

Deb Weidenhamer and her Phoenix-based company, Auction Systems Auctioneers & Appraisers, brought the fast-paced world of auction houses to the small screen this fall on TLC’s “Auctioneer$.” The show premiered Oct. 9, and each episode followed about three pieces through the auction process. It showed why it was being sold, the actual auction and why the buyer wanted the piece.

Unfortunately, after four episodes “Auctioneer$” was put on hiatus, but Weidenhamer and her team are glad they were part of the program.

“It was certainly some great media for us,” she says, adding that the show allowed people to get a look at what auctions are all about, as well as leaving them entertained and informed.

Auction Systems already was expanding its business before “Auctioneer$,” but that growth has since accelerated and the company is looking to add four additional locations in the Southwest in 2011. As a result of the show, however, Weidenhamer says that auction attendance, and the number of individuals and companies looking to auction off items, has increased. Now, many corporations are calling Auction Systems looking to auction off surplus or discontinued items.

“Doing a television show is really something that teaches you a lot about corporate messaging,” she says, adding that her company had to “get succinct on what our message was.”

The company’s message was, and continues to be, you can live better by buying at auction, she says.

“Auctioneer$” also shared with viewers one important piece of information about the auction industry.

“It’s different every day,” Weidenhamer says. “You never know what’s going to show up to be sold. It’s always intriguing. The buyers and sellers all have very different motivations.”

Weidenhamer’s favorite auctioned item is an antique time recorder clock that appeared on the TLC show. During the boom of the Industrial Revolution, the four-foot time clock recorded up to 100 employees’ hours at a time.

“I think that’s just really fascinating because it’s such a piece of history. They’re very rare to find. It was just such a beautiful piece,” she says.

The auction industry’s ever-changing ways were what drew Weidenhamer to the business in the first place. In 1995, while on a flight from San Francisco to Phoenix she sat by an 80-year-old former auctioneer. He detailed the excitement and diversity of his career and Weidenhamer was sold. Within a month, she resigned from her job in the mergers-and-acquisitions field and enrolled in auction school. She’s been in the auction business for about 15 years.

In the seven months the TLC crews filmed “Auctioneer$,” Weidenhamer picked up a bit of the reality show way of life — she learned to ignore the cameras.

“You really get used to it,” she says. “They just kind of become a part of the background and you don’t even think about it anymore.”

Ryan O’Meara Opens Outdoor Ice Skating Rink In Scottsdale

Olympian Ryan O’Meara Opens Outdoor Ice Skating Rink In Scottsdale

If you’re from Arizona, chances are you haven’t experienced Jack Frost nipping at your nose while skating around an outdoor rink.

Bust out your mittens, hats and scarves, Arizonans, because that’s about to change.

Olympic ice dancer Ryan O’Meara is bringing winter fun to downtown Scottsdale. The rink will sit outside of Palavela Home, the interior design store he owns with his mother Sue O’Meara, for the month of December, and is open to the public.

“For me it’s so different skating outside,” O’Meara says. “[I’ve] spent pretty much my whole life on a skating rink. … [But] it’s completely different feel.”

The rink isn’t just about family fun, it’s also about bringing attention to downtown Scottsdale retail stores in a rough economy, O’Meara says. With an outdoor rink, customers get a chance to explore the shopping opportunities while having fun, he says.

The rink is “a way to boost the downtown Scottsdale area, as well as giving back to the community,” O’Meara says.

O’Meara teamed the rink up with four local charities, giving each charity a week in December to call their own. Each week 15 percent of store and ice rink sales will be donated to the designated charity. The charities, in order, are Homeward Bound, Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS, the Arizona Chapter of The ALS Association and Ryan House.

O’Meara will be out on the ice with his partner, Emily Nussear, and Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. a local amateur skaters will put on a free show.

But if you’re looking to stake out a piece of the ice to practice your triple salchow or quadruple lutz, you should call ahead. The rink can hold only 40 skaters at a time, and O’Meara strongly suggests you reserve a spot.

This is a unique opportunity to skate outdoors in winter weather that doesn’t give you instant frostbite, O’Meara says.

Wondering how the ice is going to stay frozen? The rink will be made of synthetic ice, which allows skaters to glide around as if on real ice, but without the added cost of refrigeration.

On a side note, Palavela Home is named for the arena O’Meara skated in during the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. After retiring from skating, O’Meara transitioned to a career as an interior designer.

If You Go:
Palavela Home
4222 N. Marshall Way
Scottsdale, Ariz. 85251
Hours: 11 a.m.–9 p.m. daily, except Dec. 23–25
Cost: $15 per 45-minute session–skates included
Reservations: 480-946-1006 or palavelahome@aol.com
www.palavelahome.com

Mobile Phone From iPhone to Android

Mobile Phone News From iPhone to Android

Almost every American owns and uses a mobile phone. They’ve become such an integral part of our lives that we feel naked without them. People of my generation (I’m a recent college graduate) wake up to their phone’s alarm, then they text, tweet, call, chat, e-mail, or BBM until the moment their heads hit the pillow. Then they wake up and do it all again.

Since they’re as everyday as eating and sleeping, here’s an update on what’s happening in the mobile world.

Kik It Up A Notch

The newest app to take the world by storm is Kik

Kik is a free messaging system similar to Blackberry’s Blackberry Messenger (BBM) or AOL’s Instant Messenger. Kik works across several platforms, including Blackberry, iPhone and Andriod.

Last week this app hit two million users in only three weeks.

Kik’s goal is to bring instant messaging away from the computer and onto the phone so that you’ll never leave home without it.

Information from Mashable.com’s Kik article.

Netflix Holds Out On Android

iPhone, iPads and Windows 7 have a Netflix streaming app, but Android users will have to wait a bit longer.

According to a Wired.com article, the Android platform’s security issues made Hollywood take a step back. Piracy is a major issue with the film industry and most of the Android phones didn’t meet its standards.

However, since there are several Android models, some Android users will be able to get the Netflix app starting in early 2011.

And finally the old stand by question:

Will Apple Stop Teasing Verizon Users?

According to a Wall Street Journal article, the answer is, yes.

In October. an article detailing that Apple is making an iPhone for Verizon Wireless appeared on WSJ.com, whetting the appetite of all Apple-loving, Verizon-using, smartphone junkies.

There has yet to be any final word. However, another WSJ.com article claims many Verizon users are so sure the iPhone is coming their way that they’re waiting to update their phones until the magical day Apple stops teasing them.

Proposition 203 Passes - Arizona Legalizes Medical Marijuana

Proposition 203 Passes – Arizona Legalizes Medical Marijuana

On Nov. 23, Arizona is set to officially become the 15th state in the nation to legalize medical marijuana.

Almost two weeks after the Nov. 2 election, the final numbers for Proposition 203 have been tallied and the measure has passed by the slimmest of margins — a mere 4,341 votes. The final numbers: 841,346 people (50.13 percent) voted yes on Prop. 203, and 837,005 people (49.87 percent) voted no.

Passage of Proposition 203 means thousands of legitimate medical marijuana patients will be able to receive their prescriptions, says Andrew Myers, spokesman for the Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project.

The first medical marijuana dispensaries won’t be open for almost a year due to the regulatory process, Myers added.

He also stated that Arizona’s medical marijuana industry would be very different from that of California, which at one point had around 1,000 dispensaries in Los Angeles County alone.

Proposition 203 limits Arizona to one dispensary for every 10 pharmacies and creates a state-regulated industry. This means if pharmacy numbers remain the same, Arizona will only have 124 medical marijuana dispensaries, Myers says.

Proposition 203’s approval won’t be certified until Nov. 23, to allow those behind the scenes to double check the numbers. However, Myers doesn’t anticipate any significant changes.

The certification might also be delayed until a recount on Proposition 112 is completed. Proposition 112 would amend the Arizona constitution to require citizen-initiative petitions to be filed six months in advance of an election. Currently, a citizen-initiative petition only needs to be filed four months prior to an election. With the current vote count, Proposition 112 has lost by fewer than 200 votes, the amount necessary to cause a recount, Myers noted.

Whether Proposition 203 is legally certified on Nov. 23 or not, the measure has passed, and you can expect legalized medical marijuana to come soon to Arizona.

To see all election results, visit the Arizona Secretary of State’s website. More election coverage on AZNow.Biz includes our political columnist Tom Milton’s analysis and our recap of the election results.

Downtown Phoenix Shopping

The Goal Of Shift Arizona Is To Get People Shopping Locally, Boosting The State’s Economy

In an effort to jolt the state’s economy back to life, Local First Arizona is encouraging Arizonans to shift 10 percent of their purchases to local businesses.

Ten percent might not seem like a lot, but when even a small amount is fed into a local economy, it can grow exponentially. The shift can be made anywhere from banking, food, products or services.

This year-long campaign, called Shift Arizona, is modeled after an economic impact study performed in Grand Rapids, Mich. The study showed that a 10 percent shift by all residents would create 1,600 new jobs, local wages would increase by $50 million and $130 million would be fed into the local economy.

This study is driving Shift Arizona to strengthen Arizona’s economy and foster civic pride along the way.

“A vibrant, robust local business community is what I look forward to,” as a result of Shift Arizona, says Adam Goodman, president of Goodman’s Interior Structures and a Local First Arizona member.

Taking part in Shift Arizona isn’t only about shopping at local boutiques, it’s about buying locally made products and purchasing services provided by locally owned companies, says Kimber Lanning, founder and director of Local First Arizona.

Lanning suggests making a few simple shifts, such as dining at local restaurants, frequenting local theaters, or stopping at a local coffee shop every fifth time you grab a cup of joe — she understands that Starbucks habit is tough to break.

Local First Arizona’s website provides a list of locally owned businesses to help make your transition easier.

However, buying local doesn’t mean completely changing your routine, Lanning says.  Many chain stores, such as Target and Walmart, stock Arizona-made products like Shamrock Farms, China Mist teas and Hickman’s eggs, Lanning says.

Local companies care about and support other local organizations, charities and businesses, while a national company will support the local businesses near its headquarters, Goodman says.

Buying local will affect much more than just that one business; it will create spending throughout the community, Goodman says. He adds that his own business is looking at what it can do to spend more money locally.

Shift Arizona also is dispelling the myth that local stores are more expensive than national chains, Lanning says. Oil changes and pet food are often cheaper at local stores, she says.

In a continuingly tough economic climate, Shift Arizona is championing using your wallet as you would use your vote.

“We’re at a point in time where the discussion amongst our elected officials revolves around whether we want our taxes raised or our services cut, but in reality, through our purchasing power, citizens can grow the economy without spending any more money,” Lanning says. “We just need to make our money shift to a more locally based economy.”

Lanning says Arizonans can boost the economy not by spending more money, but by spending their money a little more thoughtfully.

Christine French - Creates a Nonprofit & successful entrepreneurial venture. - AZ Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

Christine French Of The Nonprofit Diversity Leadership Alliance & Global Diversity Consulting

Christine French Took Her Expertise In Diversity To Create A Nonprofit And A Successful Entrepreneurial Venture.

Even as a young child growing up in Vietnam, Christine French always knew her main purpose in life was to help people from different backgrounds and experiences come together and form a whole.

“When I was eight, the first lesson in social studies was talking about ambassadors. Right then and there I stood up and announced to my teacher and my class, to their surprise and mine, ‘I am going to be one of those,’” French says. “The ambassador, as I learned that day in the lesson, is the person who helps people understand each other so they no longer have a need to fight, to have war. That has followed me since I was eight.”

In 2002, in the wake of Sept. 11, French hosted a roundtable in Phoenix that brought together business leaders and various associations to discuss the importance of diversity to business success.

Since the Diversity Leadership Alliance was officially formed in 2003, it has grown rapidly, and now hosts a wide range of events, including monthly workshops with average attendance rates of more than 100 people, quarterly executive and legal forums, an annual diversity conference, and a youth council.

French says she started the nonprofit Diversity Leadership Alliance and her business, Global Diversity Consulting, to dispel the many myths surrounding diversity efforts.

Diversity’s progress has been slowed, French says, because the creation of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and affirmative action programs have led many employers to view diversity as a numbers game.

This misconception created resistance to embracing diversity, as many people and companies thought hiring minorities meant not hiring the most qualified candidate, she says.

But French, who is founder and co-chair of the Diversity Leadership Alliance, argues that diversity is really about embracing the gifts and talents of every individual, and putting those strengths to work for a company.

“EEOC and affirmative action are counting people; diversity and inclusion (are) making people count,” French says.

The only way to combat misunderstandings about diversity, French says, is to create dialogue, which is the goal of the Diversity Leadership Alliance and the forums it hosts. French says she wants this dialogue to lead to major changes in the way people think about diversity.

While promoting the benefits of diversity, French says she is often asked, “Why do I have to change? I’ve been successful so far.”

Her response?

“We all need to change, myself included,” she says. “We all need to change because what brought us here today, all the skill and talent and good work we’ve done yesterday to bring us here today, will not be enough to take us where we need to be tomorrow.”

French’s commitment to diversity extends to her own livelihood. In 2007, she left her job as senior global diversity leader at American Express to spend more time with her four grandsons. However, she continues to champion diversity through Global Diversity Consulting.

French has written and self-published two books, “The Lotus Path” and “How to Get Along With Other People Without Hiring a Hit Man.”

“The Lotus Path,” which will be available in March, details French’s life, her success and how she learned transformational leadership during her world travels.

French co-wrote “How to Get Along With Other People Without Hiring a Hit Man” with Rico Burton. The book, which was published in October, features 10 stories about workplace challenges, and includes activities to help readers find solutions to each situation.

With her books, her life and her work, French is trying to clear away the fallacies about diversity, and one day hopes, to quote Martin Luther King Jr., that her “grandsons (will) be judged by the content of their character, and not by the color of their skin.”

Until then, French will continue pushing for more and more dialogue about diversity.

“Diversity … is about people. It’s about you. It’s about me,” French says. “Let’s clear it once and for all, because as long as we have a misconception, a misunderstanding, the work will never be done.”

Arizona Business Magazine Nov/Dec 2010

taco dish

Find Delicious Mexican Food In The Old Pueblo

Having spent four years in Tucson attending the University of Arizona, I assimilated to the culture.  By that I mean Mexican food became one of my major food groups.  There’s no shortage of Mexican food from South Tucson to the foothills of the Catalina Mountains, so if you love Mexican food, you’re in luck.  Here are seven diverse Mexican restaurants that will be sure to get your taste buds buzzing in the Old Pueblo.

Café Poca Cosa
www.cafepocacosatucson.com
110 E. Pennington Street
Tucson, Ariz. 85701
(520) 622-6400

You never know just what you’re going to get at Café Poca Cosa.  But with a menu that changes twice daily, you can expect fresh and innovative food.  Located in downtown Tucson, Café Poca Cosa is sleeker and more modern than other Mexican restaurants.

El Charro Café
www.elcharrocafe.com
311 N. Court Ave.
Tucson, Ariz. 85701
(520) 622-1922

El Charro Café was established in 1922, but today there are three around Tucson, one in Oro Valley and one in Sahuarita.  According to Bloomberg’s Businessweek Magazine, it’s the oldest Mexican restaurant in the United States. The best part of the downtown, Court Avenue location is the outdoor patio, perfect for dining on spicy food on a cool evening.

Guadalajara Grill
www.ggrill.com
1220 E. Prince Road
Tucson, Ariz. 85719
(520) 333-1022

Guadalajara Grill is always packed on Friday and Saturday nights.  Most people may be waiting for the food, but those in the know are there for the La Bandera margarita. This margarita is 18 ounces of fun, with different flavors stacked three high to look like the Mexican flag. Learn how La Bandera is made.

La Fuente Restaurant
www.lafuenterestaurant.com
1749 N. Oracle Road
Tucson, Ariz. 85705
(520) 623-8659

During the day La Fuente can’t be missed – it’s bright pink.  But at night La Fuente shouldn’t be missed because of the lively and loud atmosphere.  At La Fuente, mariachis are the main attraction Thursday through Sunday.  They even have their own stage in the middle of the restaurant.

Mi Nidito
www.minidito.net
1812 S. Fourth Ave.
Tucson, Ariz. 85713
(520) 622-5081

Located in South Tucson, Mi Nidito is Mexican food with a presidential past.  When President Bill Clinton visited in February 1999, Mi Nidito commemorated the event by naming a dish “The Presidential Plate.”  Other notable guests include former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, actor William Shatner and of course hometown favorite and former Wildcat basketball star Steve Kerr.

Sir Veza’s Taco Garage
www.sirvezas.com
4699 E. Speedway Blvd.
Tucson, Ariz. 85712
(520) 323-TACO (8226)

If you’re looking for Mexican food with a different spin, try Sir Veza’s Taco Garage. Chips and salsa are served in a hubcap and shammies serve as napkins at this unconventional restaurant.  It’s not the most authentic Mexican food in town, but Sir Veza’s delivers with an extensive cerveza and cocktail menu and themed meal names.

The Taco Shop Co.
1350 E. Broadway Blvd.
Tucson, Ariz. 85719
(520) 622-1899

The Taco Shop Co. is great for cheap, fast and semi-greasy Mexican food. Don’t expect linen tablecloths and silverware, The Taco Shop Co. is open 24 hours and has a salsa buffet. But the combo platters, complete with a drink, rice and beans, rarely cost more than $8, and they’re filling.

Salud!

Groupon success with business owners and consumers

Bargains Fuel Groupon’s Success With Business Owners And Consumers

Since its launch in Nov. 2008, Groupon.com has grown to become a phenomenon – both in the business world and among people searching for a steal.

Groupon.com uses the power of a group to get products and services at a 50- to 90-percent discount for its users. The discounts can be on anything from salon and photography services to deals at restaurants.

In order to be valid, the Groupon discount must reach a tipping point. The tipping point is the amount of people that must buy the Groupon in order for the retailer to make the discount valid. The tipping point is different for each discount.

Groupon offers Phoenix deals, and a separate venue for Scottsdale deals is on its way.

Groupon expanded rapidly. In less than two years the company has gone from seven employees at their headquarters in Chicago to 2,600 employees worldwide. Although Groupon has grown steadily since its inception, the company hit its stride in 2010, says Julie Mossler, Groupon spokesperson. In August, Forbes Magazine named Groupon the fastest growing company ever, Mossler says.

Harnessing Groupon’s power for your business is easy, Mossler says. The company started GrouponWork.com to help businesses learn how to work with Groupon. The site provides case studies on Groupon’s success and tips on how to successfully structure deals.

Dolce Salon & Spa is one Phoenix-area business that has taken advantage of the new marketing potential behind Groupon’s deals.

Dolce has offered two deals through Groupon.com and has seen a big return from it, says Dynelle Rodriguez, spokesperson for Dolce Salon & Spa.

Rodriguez said Groupon called them and suggested they strike a deal. The opportunity to market the salon and spa in a unique way intrigued her, she said.

Each day Dolce has a customer using a Groupon discount, Rodriguez says. Although the result has been greater than the company expected, Dolce isn’t looking to do another Groupon discount in the near future because of the long expiration dates on the company’s Groupons, she says. However, Rodriguez says she recommends Groupon to all businesses she deals with.

If you want to use Groupon for personal use, Mossler offers a few tips.

1. Let the excitement die down and wait a week before using the Groupon.
2. Tip on the full amount of the Groupon to thank the business for offering such a great discount.
3. If there are any problems, even if the merchant is the problem, give Groupon a call.
4. Connect with Groupon’s individual cities on Facebook or Twitter. Example: @GrouponPhoenix and facebook.com/grouponphoenix

In the future, Groupon is hoping to customize its bargain offerings even more than the gender- and location-specific deals the company currently offers.

If you think Groupon is going to save you tons of money, meet Josh Stevens, the Groupawn. He is living solely off of Groupon’s coupons for one year – and he applied for this job. He has to barter to pay for tax and tip and he must rely on strangers for transportation and lodging.

If Stevens is successful he will receive $100,000 at the end of his year. Stevens is about halfway through his journey and has yet to visit Arizona.

Mossler says Stevens’ plan was to venture West when freezing temperatures set in back East.

Keep your fingers crossed that Stevens sticks to his plan and hopefully we’ll see the Groupawn in Phoenix soon. It appears as if it’s getting cold in those northeastern states.

www.liveoffgroupon.com | www.facebook.com/liveoffgroupon | @groupawned

House Call

Valley Doctors Balance Offices With House Calls

Sitting impatiently in a packed waiting room past your appointment time just hoping to be called next, seems like a far cry from the comfort of the old country doctor that made house calls.

A few Valley doctors are resurrecting this relationship-oriented style of medicine through a hybrid concierge model; some even make house calls in urgent situations.

Concierge care, which solely caters to a VIP clientele, has been around for a while. But Wayne Lipton, the founder of Concierge Choice Physicians, is touting a hybrid model that has a handful of doctors practicing in Arizona and more than 160 physicians in 16 states.

The hybrid approach allows concierge patients to have direct contact with their physician through e-mail or phone, same- or next-day appointments, extended visits and executive physicals. The doctors can still see other patients who didn’t feel the need to pay extra to join a concierge model.

“This approach is not only kinder and gentler to an area, it helps accomplish a number of goals,” Lipton says. “It’s a choice, not a requirement on the part of patients. So it’s an opportunity, and the opportunity is to have something that’s more akin to old-fashioned primary care. It’s also an opportunity for the doctor to continue to participate in the plan and the government plan they’d been in before.”

Dr. Susan Wilder, who has been a physician for more than 20 years, switched her practice, LifeScape Medical Associates, to the hybrid model about two years ago.

“We wanted to take the time needed with patients … not churn them through 40 patients a day,” says Wilder, founder and CEO of LifeScape Medical Associates in Scottsdale.

Wilder became a doctor to provide the kind of care she received as a child from her general practitioner, who knew her family’s medical history and who delivered her and her siblings.

“My ideal was to be the old-fashioned family doctor,” she says. “The concierge model allows us to have that relationship.”

Christine Craft, who has been a concierge patient for two years, says she opted to have more accessibility to and a closer relationship with her doctor.

Craft says most of her questions are health-related as opposed to sickness-related, but the conversations the hybrid model allows her to have with Wilder are worth the extra payments.

Craft and her husband didn’t have health issues when they became concierge patients, but since that time Craft’s husband has developed a serious illness.

She says she thought the concierge practice was valuable when she was healthy, but with a serious illness, “the value of it increases a hundred times. … The accessibility that my husband (has), to have that when times are scary and tough (is) even more valuable.”

Wilder isn’t the only doctor to find the concierge care beneficial to both her and her patients.

“It’s growing leaps and bounds,” Lipton says. “It’s growing numbers amongst the best and the brightest … because it is consistent with why they became primary care doctors to begin with.”

In the current health care system, where the only way to increase income is to increase patients, thereby decreasing the level of care, doctors are turning to concierge care to boost income.

“Sometimes I feel like Charlie Brown and the football” in the current health care system, Wilder says.

Although Wilder only has about 200 concierge patients and her practice has more than 1,500 non-concierge patients, she says the hybrid model has kept her practice alive financially.

“It doesn’t make millionaire doctors, but what it does is it bolsters the revenue of a practice efficiently to make up for what really is a very unsure level of compensation for primary physicians today, and it encourages excellence,” Lipton says.

The hybrid model not only boosts income, but also the fulfillment level of doctors.

It’s “much more rewarding to provide comprehensive care,” Wilder says.