Freelance Writer
Boulder’s Plan to Bolster Business
03.28.06 | No Comments
Category: General

Part of the “Images” series published by JCC Communications for various Chamber of Commerce Publications across the country

Boulder is fortunate in many ways, including having a well-diversified economy. Long a hub for entrepreneurial activity, the city and surrounding areas have high tech firms in bioscience, software and data storage as well as non-tech companies in natural foods, outdoor products and creative class pursuits. Mixed with federal laboratories and the University of Colorado, Boulder bubbles with business.

With the help of the University of Colorado, the Chamber of Commerce and the city, the Boulder Economic Council hopes to create a Boulder Innovation Center (BIC). Considered a “virtual business incubator,” it is one of the steps toward building an economic vitality plan to promote and recruit new businesses, ultimately bolstering a healthier economy for Boulder.

“The BIC will provide training, mentoring and other forms of assistance to start-up companies,” says Sean Maher, director of the Boulder Economic Council, “as well as later stage ventures who need help growing their business.”

Like a Big Brother program, this center will pair experienced CEOs with new entrepreneurs – the CEOs sharing their expertise with hungry new business people. It will also help companies raise early stage capital, assist them in finding affordable space and guide fresh businesses through the process of the oft-dreaded business plan.

For it to work, the city, EDC and the Chamber fuse their strengths, each bringing to the project the nuts and bolts to build and facilitate this plan successfully. The Chamber brings dollars and its broad brush of support to the business community. The BEC has access to leaders in banking, law, marketing and businesses, as well as funding. And the city cooperates with its departments, which businesses deal with on a regular basis. The city, too, has funding.

“Boulder has always been a hub for entrepreneurial activity,” says Maher. “These efforts will bring together all the resources available in the community and give entrepreneurs an easy way to tap into them. The elements of this plan have been extremely well received throughout the business community. “

The Essential List for Deejays (to poop on)
03.28.06 | No Comments
Category: A&E

Originally ran in Worcester Magazine, 2003

Musical beauty is in the ear of the listener, and I certainly don’t mean to belie that notion.

But as a fairly consistent complainer about certain songs (many of which don’t qualify for this article), the editor of this section asked me to spin my whines into words – and create a little roundup of tunes that are begging to hit “out of print” status. Unfortunately, these are not songs that are going to go away any time soon, as they are some of the most popular cover tunes and wedding reception songs out there.

I’m in a cover band (let’s get that out of the way), and I occasionally argue that we teeter on the fence between doing good songs and just songs that people think

they need to hear. I write this article, yet some might protest that because my band includes “Play That Funky Music,” “Bad Case of Loving You,” “Son of a Preacher Man” and “Brick House,” it disqualifies me from being an authority. So be it. It’s still fun to complain.

And we all cave sometimes.

Below please find, in no particular order, the ultimate bad wedding reception and cover songs list – a group of numbers that should be stuffed into a flimsy piñata and bashed to a pulp. It is a compilation that must be photocopied and faxed to every deejay in the country, so they can promptly weed it from their collection.

“Wonderful Tonight” – This song is hardly wonderful tonight, or any night – even the eve of your high school prom (80 percent of you can claim this one). Clapton’s droning, flat voice only mucks up further this dull melody. One really bad song on an otherwise great album.

“Crocodile Rock” – Too goofy. And what the hell is “Crocodile Rock” anyway? This one was in close running with “Only the Good Die Young.”

“Some Kind of Wonderful” – The bass line is some kind of awful. Like that nauseating “Black Velvet” (or even “I’m The Only One” by Melissa Etheridge), the bass tedium just hangs out nakedly to annoy and assault the listener for a good three and a half minutes. Grand Funk stunk.

“Paradise by the Dashboard Light” – Picturing all the feathered-hair cheesies and mullet-heads pointing at one another yelling “stop right there!” is hysterical. But when the entire song is dramatized in front of us – from Meat Loaf swearing he’d love that girl ‘til the end of time to sleeping on it to praying for the end of time, we’re praying for the song to end.

“Mustang Sally” – Does this one really require an explanation as to why it ought to be recalled? Does not everyone hate this song?

“Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll” – Just take this old record off the shelf, and throw it in the garbage. Usually the “party starter” at most weddings, the opening piano riff is meant to bring us to our feet, but instead sends us to the bar for another shot.

“Brown Eyed Girl” – I feel bad sometimes about damning this song to death. Van Morrison is a monster songwriter, and one of the most soulful white singers on the planet. However, this tune has entered a stage where if I hear one more band break into those easy chords, I’ll – well, I’ll stay and play pool, but I won’t like it.

“Celebration” – End this song some time, come on! There is so much better out there in the disco/dance category that we shouldn’t have to bear this weak entry by Kool and his Gang. “Ladies Night” would be much more welcomed.

“Mony Mony” – Hey you? Hey what? … get Raid… this sucks! Let’s spray this drunken bug of a song-chant along with the “So good, so good!” in “Sweet Caroline.”

“Love Shack” – If we had some separation for awhile, this one might not be so bad. But as with the “stop right there!” during “Dashboard,” it’s just hard to deal with the “tin roof … rusted!” theatrics on the dance floor.

“YMCA” – We’ve all proven we can form those letters (though everyone makes the “M” a little differently). Let’s shelve this baby for awhile.

That “Shout/Twist” medley – Now waiiiiit a minute. This pesky mix does makes us want to shout, at the deejay, to turn it off and put on something superior like “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” or “Best of My Love.”

And lastly, we line ‘em up: Bring back the “Alley Cat!” Thoroughly revive “The Hustle!” “The Electric Slide,” the “Chicken Dance” and the “Macarena” have become sad attempts to pluck wedding guests from their assigned seating. Usually, however, three or four women and a guy or two fumble through the steps enough to annoy that one person who knows the dance by heart – their “Achey Breaky Heart,” a song we’d welcome back over many on this list.

And a few suggestions from the staff: “Lady in Red,” “I Will Always Love You,” “Always and Forever,” “December 1963 (Oh What a Night)” and “Wind Beneath My Wings.”

Navigate the Financial Marketplace
03.28.06 | No Comments
Category: Advertorials

Brown and Brown segment in Worcester Business Journal’s Book of Experts

There are so many options in the financial world these days. Gone are the times when a wad of cash stuffed between the mattresses would suffice for “emergency savings” or “education funds.” It’s hard to know where to start when so many opportunities exist to channel your hard-earned money through. That’s where Brown & Brown LLP comes in with a confident hand, guiding you and your funds to achieve your financial goals.

“In today’s marketplace, people are bombarded with financial information and choices related to their personal financial needs,” says Carolyn Stall, partner, “including investments, insurance, estate planning, retirement funding, tax savings strategies, educational costs, etc. If is often difficult for them to determine what they really need.”

Most importantly, Stall says it is difficult to tell if the products or services you’re being offered are appropriate and at a fair price. Brown & Brown provides wealth management services through its affiliate, Brown & Brown Financial LLC, which is a registered investment advisor. Since Brown & Brown doesn’t directly sell any products or services, you can count on the firm to be unbiased with its advice (a markedly important attribute).

“We help people obtain the best products and services,” says Stall, “and at the appropriate price to help them reach their goals. We continue to meet with them regularly to be sure they are making progress toward their financial goals and help them fine tune their plans as changes occur in their lives and in the marketplace.”

Brown & Brown provides its services on a fee basis, which allows them to avoid any conflicts of interest. Stall and her associates, with years of experience behind them and a finger on the pulse of the financial market, remain independent and objective when dishing out advice.

Here are some of the services Brown & Brown takes care of:

Identify client’s long and short term goals and objectives
Develop a financial plan to achieve those goals and objectives
Perform an in depth review of their current net worth statement
Analyze and restructure debt
Review income tax returns and develop tax saving strategies
Evaluate current insurance needs and coverage
Develop appropriate asset allocation and assist in selection of investment managers
Assist with business succession planning and valuation services
Review estate plan and develop effective wealth transfer techniques
Ongoing investment monitoring and wealth management services

Simply put, Brown & Brown acts as a client’s advocate and works hard to ensure that they are getting the most out of their money, in more ways than one. And that, you can take to the bank.