World Market Brightens Up Surroundings

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I grew up in a house that was white: White couch, white rugs, white walls. And classic. The kind of furniture you see in all of the high-end furniture stores. Pseudo-French and heavy Victorian influences, except my family home had a mad dash of "opium den" thrown in. I call it that because all of the tables and knick-knacks were Oriental (thanks to holiday trips to Hawaii and my folks living in Panama for awhile before I was born). But the coloring, beyond the dark woods, was pale. Very pale.

When I moved away from home, I had pre-IKEA put-together furniture from the discount store and some family hand-me-downs. It was an eclectic brew of dissimilar tastes of which I made due for a long time. This time the colors were navy, golden yellow, and rust. Not quite primary colors, but not pale. This lasted until World Market came to middle-Tennessee. Then I went a little crazy.

Now my home and my office are full of bright colors and hand-made pieces of furniture with definite character. It began with a wooden trunk for my house. Then a small desk. The recent furnishing of an entire office pushed me over the edge. Yep, I went head over heals for their unique furniture and Indian printed fabrics, then added eclectic art from my own collection. For accents, I did some DIY sewing, making throw pillows for the office couch from colorful napkins.

World Market lighting, addicted to it, too. I have a thing for oriental-looking lamps. I guess it is all those childhood years of being surrounded by the Asian knick-knacks and hand carved furniture. Besides, those big paper lanterns are so fun.

An office can be efficient and still inviting. Business-like, and still evoke your taste. Of course, the office does have to fit the job. Since I am in a creative business, I can have a creative office. Perhaps this isn’t quite the office for a bank president. But then, it wouldn’t be a bank president’s taste, now would it?

Finally, my house has art and furniture and books that are working together. I have found my style. And that style is not French, or Victorian, or Oriental. It is decidedly Bo-Ho. 

Beyond the Lemonade Stand: Teaching Economics to Pre-Teens

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Summer and lemonade just go together. That sweet and tart mixture poured into a tall ice filled glass tastes like frozen sunshine. It’s thirst quenching on a sultry day, when you don’t want to do anything more than watch the sweat build on the glass and then run down the side in small rivulets. When I was a kid, there was nothing like fresh lemonade from a neighborhood stand on such a day.

I had a very successful lemonade stand when I was eight or nine. From it I learned the basics of business. As an adult, I have worked for small businesses and for corporations. I found that everything I needed to know about the basics of business I had learned from running that lemonade stand.

For the last twelve years I have had the pleasure of sharing these basic concepts with Rutherford County, Tennessee middle school students through the State Farm Summer Business Camp. The eleven to fourteen year-olds who participated took everything they learned during the camp and created imaginary businesses far beyond a simple lemonade stand.

These kids, in just two weeks out of their summer, created full-scale business plans for everything from a “simple” coffee shop to a complex manufacturing plant. The goal of the program is to teach financial and economic literacy, but the students end up receiving many life lessons as well. This is because camp participants learn how to connect classroom curriculum to real world activities. When asked by a school administrator if they preferred the camp or school, participants said that they worked a whole lot harder during the camp, but they preferred it to school. The campers added that they learned more from the camp because it was hands-on and it challenged them to work through problems and to think in different ways.

While I was coordinating the Business Camp, I had many calls and emails from teachers, colleges, and chambers of commerce wanting to know how they could recreate what we did. My goal, through this blog, is to share information with others about how to do just that. How to teach economics to kids beginning at a young age. I will share games, activities and exercises that can be used at home or in the classroom. I will share what I learned from a lot of wonderful business people in Rutherford County who passed their knowledge on to these kids. I will share Internet resources. And I might even share some pretty tasty lemonade recipes.

So stay tuned to learn what lies beyond the lemonade stand.

Food, Flowers, Giant Ants and Warhol

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sometimes you need to take a step into the past. Go see those places you haunted long ago. Find out how they have changed. My recent sojourn into the past was a pleasant afternoon spent re-exploring Cheekwood. It was a hot summer day, and what says summer more than viewing Andy Warhol’s Flowers and David Roger’s Giant Bugs.

As I roamed the gardens, I remembered the many concerts I had enjoyed on the back lawn when an ad agency I worked for had Cheekwood as a client. And, as I walked through the house, memories of an “amusing” night making hors d'oeuvres as fast as I could for a corporate event with an overabundance of participants came to mind. Lunch in the Pineapple Room reminded me of Christmas tours of the house and grounds with my mother.

Cheekwood was as I remember, and yet different. The giant bugs decorating the lawn and gardens were pretty cool. I liked being able to walk under the Daddy Longlegs. Did you know that they really are not poisonous? That is just an urban myth. I also liked the ants and the spider in its web. All of the bugs are made of different woods. I suggest taking the time to look at the construction of each piece, and read the description. I learned a lot about wood sculpture construction and bugs.

Besides the bugs, there are some other art pieces on the grounds. Some of the pieces offer a place for kids to play, like a tree house. And some are restful places to reflect, like the masonry gate leading to one of the shaded ponds. One gate made me think of a French castle garden I saw in Europe.

After strolling through the real flowers, I popped into the house to see the Warhol collection. I have to admit, I adore his stuff. I was lucky enough to see the retrospective of his work at MoMa in New York right after his death. He was what my father would call “a character.” There was controversy over most of what he did. His flower prints were no exception. His first prints were actually made from a photo in a book without the permission of the photographer. Yes, he got in trouble. He started taking his own flower photos after that.

I enjoyed the beauty, the art, the food and the learning I found at Cheekwood. It was good to chill for an afternoon. I suggest, that before the summer fades, you take a trip to enjoy the bugs and flowers, real and artistic. Be sure to top the day off with a quiet lunch at the Pineapple Room. Sometimes you just need to stop the rush through life and smell the flowers.

PR Release: Short Mountain On Map with Shannen and Holly

Monday, August 11, 2014

Cannon County, Tenn. -- Short Mountain Distillery has just had another celebrity visit. Shannen Doherty (Beverly Hills 90210 / Charmed) and Holly Combs (Charmed / Pretty Little Liars), best friends for many years, visited the distillery as part of their new travel show, Off The Map, which will be shown on Great American Country in early 2015.
The ladies shared with Short Mountain managing partner, Billy Kaufman, that they are taking a ‘summer vacation’ from their Hollywood lives to travel through Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. They want to seize the opportunity to enjoy life in the South, an area of the country with which both are unfamiliar, with the people who live there.
According to the GAC sources, Off the Map is an opportunity for Shannen, Holly, and the viewers, to expand what it means to call America ‘home’. Fans can vote on where they want the ladies to visit in each state on the GAC website. Drinking and making moonshine got the vote for what to do while touring Tennessee. Perfect choice, since Tennessee is where its manufacture began.
 “Both actresses were extremely personable and approachable,” said Kaufman.They drank shine, made shine and generally had a great time.” 
Moonshine, that backwoods staple that Granny Clampett kept safely hidden in her medicine closet, is now out of the closet and becoming the hippest new addition to the Farm-to-Table movement. And Tennessee’s Short Mountain Distillery, housed in the hollers of Cannon County, is fast becoming Hollywood’s favorite place to enjoy downhome fun and sip the once taboo liquor with the locals.

Just a few months ago, Short Mountain Distillery was revealed as a shooting location for Sage + Saints new music video “Take Me to the South,” co-directed by Kristen Stewart of Twilight fame. It was there that the now famous Kristen Stewart goat- holding photo was taken. Something about the laid-back atmosphere makes stressed out stars relax and smile. Shannen and Holly were no exceptions.

“Shannen and Holly stayed longer than expected. We were all having a great time telling tall tales, eating, drinking, and listening to the old time music,” Kaufman added
 For more information about Short Mountain Distillery, moonshine and how to enjoy this slightly wicked brew, go to

 Off the Map will be seen on GAC in early 2015 according to information provided by the channel. To follow the show as it happens, check out #ShannenandHolly on Twitter or vote on where Shannen and Holly visit next by going to

Advertising 101: Communication Not Voodoo

Thursday, August 7, 2014

When I was visiting my hometown of Portland, Oregon a few years ago, one morning I passed by Voodoo Doughnuts. The line into the place was two city blocks long. Must be great, Anthony Bourdain raved over their Bacon Maple Bar on “No Reservations.” Maybe he’s still getting the word out by wearing one of their Voodoo Doll Doughnut t-shirt. You can get one, too.  These people know how to advertise.

You can’t work in the advertising field without people asking you what you do. Every person, unless you live out in the boondocks, is exposed to an average of 3,000 advertising messages a day (although we only process about 247), but has no clue what advertising is or what it can do.

So, what is advertising?

First and foremost it is a form of communication. Communication is the passing of a message through a medium in such a way that the message is understood by the receiver at the other end. If there is a breakdown in any part of this process, then communication has not taken place. Good advertising is a specific message getting the attention of a specific audience through a targeted medium, like Facebook or a brochure or a TV commercial. Bad advertising is communication breakdown.

Second, advertising must inspire movement. As advertising great David Ogilvy said in his book, Ogilvy on Advertising, “When I write an advertisement…I want you to find it so interesting you will buy the product.” If an advertisement is not inspiring someone to buy something, then it must have another purpose, such as branding. Simplistically stated, branding should inspire people to be emotionally involved with a product or a service or a company. Voodoo Doughnut succeeds in branding and selling. I said they're good.

Lastly, at least for this quick overview of the subject, advertising should get attention. It should be seductive enough to get noticed in a very ad-littered world (remember those 3,000 messages). Of course, it has to get the attention of the right people, and once it has their attention it better be telling them the right thing about the product or service being advertised. I think the Voodoo Doughnut website header says it all. Drool. Drool.

While the concept seems simple, good advertising is very complex. Good advertising has a well-developed creative strategy. This strategy takes into account the product, the competition, the problem being addressed and most of all, the potential customer. Because people are fickle. You never know how long they are going to crave those cayenne dusted Mexican Hot Chocolate Donuts. But then again,…

Edge Breaks Through the Clutter

Monday, August 4, 2014

I do improvisational theatre. Any improv acting coach worth their salt will tell you that whatever you decide to do when you step out on stage BE BOLD. It is the strong choices that move the scene forward.

That same bold approach is one of the key elements successful businesses adopt to move forward in the marketplace. Almost every moment of every day we are bombarded with subtle and not so subtle marketing messages, be it an ad on television, product placement in a movie, or a logo on clothing. Only by finding your business’ edge – that place where product, creative concept, target market, research and media merge – will you cut through the clutter and make your business stand out amongst the competition.

Finding that edge is like throwing a clay pot, or so I was inspired to think by an artist friend of mine. He says that each batch of clay is a living force with its own strengths and weaknesses. It is his role to explore these unique qualities. Sometimes he pushes too far and has to rebuild, but the richest pieces come when formed at the edge of those limits. If he doesn’t push, he won’t find that edge. And that’s when the piece comes alive, a phoenix with blazing plumes rising from the kiln’s ashes.

Good marketing is like that blazing plume, it is strong, strategic, memorable and built to bring out your business’ individual strengths, its EDGE. It’s part science and part art. It s not safe, it requires a risk.  It might be serious. It might be cheeky. But whatever the style, an edgy marketing plan boldly puts your business out into the spotlight with a performance that will get your customers out of their seats and into your business.  It might even get some applause.

Photo: chelle/morgueFile