Sunday, August 5, 2018

Stoddard Media & Chicago's The Second City ~ Brush With Greatness That Coulda Shoulda, Woulda Been

In the 1980's and 90's Stoddard Media founder Peter Stoddard toiled happily in Chicago selling a variety of services relating to conventions, trade shows and corporate public relations events.

Okay, enough talking in the stuffy journalistic 3rd person. I am Peter Stoddard. This is my brush with greatness and what coulda been.

In the mid 1990's I worked for Giltspur, a leading national builder of trade show exhibits. By chance clients kinda branched me off into diverse projects like Marshall Fields Christmas window displays, sponsorship events at the Illinois State Fair and high end permanent customer showrooms.

In other words, venues beyond the typical trade show halls of McCormick Place, Jacob Javits Center or the Georgia World Congress Center.

Within those trade show halls Giltspur had a marketing services division offering innovative stuff our competitors did not: exhibit staff training, lead management, special events and promotions. Also by chance, my clients were among the first to glom onto such services.

One example was a technical division of a global paint company. Store managers did not know how to sell the division's unfamiliar chemical coatings. Our mission was to hold those managers captive for 10 minutes at the national convention so marketing staff could drill the simplicity and profitability of chemical coatings into latex congested brains.

The solution was to hire 20 caricature artists placed at stations around the exhibit. As the store manager sat for their comical mug shot they had no choice but to hear and heed the chemical coatings gospel.

Within the Chicago office I stumbled into being the go to marketing services account executive, for better or for worse. There was no other candidate.

One day I got a call from "Betty" (not her real name), the head of this marketing services division, asking if I knew anything about a Joyce Sloane at a company called Second City. I replied "Sure. Don't you know anything about her?". Betty did not. She was based in Pennsyvania and claimed that as an excuse.

I had to dash to a client appointment and quickly summarized, "She's like a godmother to the cast of Saturday Night Live and a bazillion other stars. Why do you ask?" Betty answered, "You and I have an appointment with her next Thursday."

Driving to my appointment that day I almost forgot who requested it, the client or me, and why. After all, I had a meeting with Joyce Sloane to ponder. Highly unlikely The Second City needed a trade show exhibit. To my knowledge Ms. Sloane did not draw caricatures. What the heck was this about?

The next week Betty hastily filled me in somewhat, as she had to dash to an appointment. "We want to launch a new service, and a friend of a friend lined us up with Joyce Sloane to talk about it." Betty added that two of her staff would also join us on the call.

Betty did not expect me to contribute much. "Take a lot of notes and be the token guy present. You're my Chicago person." That suited me fine, as I still had no clue what I might contribute about something that remained clear as mud.

I liked Betty, and she liked me, not only because we put money in each other's pockets. But at our meeting with Joyce Sloane something was amiss. Betty was high energy as it was, but that morning someone may have laced her breakfast with napalm.

Joyce Sloane struck me as very laid back, because I included that in my copious notes. What I did not write down was my gut that Joyce was not buying the collaboration Betty was selling.

That afternoon we debriefed as I drove the others to O'Hare. Yet I finally understood why we met, and my head was spinning.

The group loosely referred to the concept in question as "business theater". I foresaw the perfect opportunity to launch it, but I was too busy taking notes and being a token guy to share it that day.

Early the next week I had the audacity to call Joyce and request a one to one meeting. To my astonishment she agreed to it.

When we sat down I dove in without much reference to the first meeting. I had to make my point fast. I figured, as relaxed as Joyce might be, she had no doubt endured a whole bunch of pitches.

"In September TS2, the Trade Show for Trade Shows, will be at McCormick Place. Attendees are event planning execs from top companies around the world. This would be the perfect audience for the introduction of business theater. I offer a script specific to exhibit hall experiences as a basis for what the presentation might look like."

I held my breath as Joyce took the script. Before glancing at it she commented, "We have a miserable history with scripts." But glance she did, while I almost hurled napalm. She smiled here and there, then explained further. To paraphrase:

"We are all about improv. Cast members and directors try scripted shows every now and then. We have yet to have one succeed. At that meeting I did not think improv would be good for a business client, because improv can be unpredictably offensive. In the case of this TS2 show it might be good to start with a script, at least to set boundaries. We have no idea what happens at a trade show. You obviously do, and I think we might be able to perform around themes you have here."

One scene she seemed to like:

An exhibit manager goes up to a McCormick Place teamster and asks, "Excuse me sir. How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?"

The teamster replies, "None you moron, dat's electrician work."

"Okay, how many teamsters does it take to hang a graphic?"

"None. If it hangs wit pinch cleats dat's carpenter work. If it hangs wit velcro dat's decorator work.

Youse is starting to piss me off."

Other proposed topics:

"Travel Expense Padding 101"
"Best Chicago Night Spots to Get Lucky"

"Refrigerator Magnets ~ Why Conventioneers Can't Get Enough"
"Hospitality Suite Hijinks"
"How to Close the Deal Hungover"

Joyce continued:

"This interests me because we have so much young talent and too few places to put them to work, even with touring companies. If this could grow into something it might be the difference between them staying with us or having to move on. Can I think about this?"

Even being the youthful salesperson I was, I gathered that was not the time to try any Zig Ziglar one call close. I got my napalm reflux back under control, and we agreed to talk in a week.

That next week Joyce said she met with staff who liked the idea. ("They like anything that pays bills.") She was leaving the country for three weeks, and we would follow up when she returned. 

I pondered whether or not to share this development with Betty, who was also out of the country. This was before the days of email and Skype, and that was probably a good thing.

While Joyce was away I got a call from a former IMG exec recruiting me to come work for a startup selling corporate hospitality at the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, Masters, Breeders' Cup and more. Time was short, I was immediately seduced, and I accepted.

I gave one week notice to Giltspur, all I could offer, vs the courteous two. I debriefed various salespeople assigned my accounts on Marshall Fields windows, the Illinois State Fair and caricature artists. And business theater. I wrote a letter to Joyce Sloane and a memo to Betty. Then I left to dive into sports.

I look back and wonder what could have been. Had I not veered might I have helped sow the seeds of business theater at The Second City?

I am not sure if this launched with Joyce at the helm or after she retired. Second City Works now puts young comedic talent to work for corporate clients.

Giltspur went on to merge with competitor ExhibitGroup, whose parent company was Greyhound Exposition Services, or GES. GES rebranded itself as today's Global Experience Specialists. Whether GES weaves satiric theater into corporate events I do not know. My guess is they try.

I will go ahead and claim they both stole the idea from me.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Atlanta’s Rapidly Delivers Real Estate Property Management Solutions to Athens & Milledgeville Rental Communities

It began as a casual inquiry in May from Farmers Insurance agent Greg Albright to his Canadian real estate client, Nova Georgia Properties. "I know an established property management company in Atlanta. Might you want to talk to them?"

Nova Georgia Properties is based in Nova Scotia. They own high occupancy residential rental properties in Georgia, including Red Oak Village in Athens and Country Club Townhomes in Milledgeville. Nova was considering a change in management of those communities, so Albright's question was timely.

Albright introduced Nova to Todd Reid, owner of Atlanta's Nova explained that operation of the properties was a little disjointed. Though both had high occupancy, they had too many month to month leases at below market value, and maintenance expense reports lacked detail.

With over 60 units at each property, taking both communities would represent an 80% increase in number of units would manage. Todd Reid prepared for such expansion, and this was his chance to prove the company was ready.

Reid offered ready solutions across the board. He contacted members of his network, Jeff Smith of Success Facets and Jon Ramey of Supporting Strategies. Smith is instrumental in positioning for dramatic growth, and Ramey specializes in turnkey accounting and operational support for growing businesses.

A hallmark of's property management approach is transparency and accessibility to both owners and tenants.

Service to owners:

- stay abreast of market values and build into leases appropriate annual rent increases when justified.
- motivate tenants to sign annual leases, collect rents on time and promptly address delinquencies.
- provide advanced technology to better manage every facet of rental operations and reporting.

Service to tenants:

- maintain a 24/7 service number, always answered by staff.
- offer lease agreements, payments and work orders by computer or telephone.
- address all repair issues within 24 hours.

Prior to beginning full time property management, Todd Reid was a real estate investor himself. He saw the need to represent owners from a different perspective.

Many real estate agencies manage long term rentals as an afterthought, often only for access to tenants who may later purchase a home.

Reid approaches operations as though each unit he manages is his own. That translates into accountability to both owners and tenants, with all issues handled in a timely and equitable manner.

In preparation Reid cultivates an extensive team of partners, both in house and outsourced. Beyond HVAC, appliance and other maintenance pros, Reid utilizes the services of advanced strategic and tactical resources. This is where Jeff Smith and Jon Ramey enter into's superior management.

Jeff Smith is an attorney with an MBA and senior executive experience at global techology and media giants. Having completed over 100 mergers and acquisitions of public and private companies, Smith is adept at preparing clients to plan, adapt and scale for growth. He shares expertise in the skills of business execution, leadership, strategic thinking, time management, change management and profitability.

Jon Ramey is a seasoned finance professional, a CPA with an MBA and Chartered Financial Analyst designation. Ramey provides sophisticated finance management services far beyond what most companies can employ in house. Each client is served by a dedicated account team, so vital information is accessible even with vacations and absences that may cause delay with typical bookkeeping services.

Nova Georgia Properties moved quickly to engage Todd Reid's services. Less than 60 days after their introduction, is at work managing Red Oak Village and Country Club Townhomes. Early indications suggest this will be an extremely successful partnership for the owner, management company and their tenants.


Todd Reid

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Forsyth County Chapter of the UGA Alumni Association to Host August 2 Kick Off & Freshman Send Off

With the 2018 football season and start of school right around the corner, anticipation is peaking for University of Georgia fans, parents and students on a lot of levels.

Seizing on this excitement, the Forsyth County Chapter of the UGA Alumni Association will host a gala reception for members and guests from 6:30 to 8:30 PM on Thursday, August 2. 

The venue for the event is the beautiful Reid Barn at 6844 Majors Road in Cumming. Come rain or shine - or even record breaking heat wave. The Reid Barn installed air conditioning this year to ensure the comfort of all their event guests.

Admission is $20 per person, payable upon entry. All children age 12 and under are admitted free, as are all incoming freshman and their families. Burgers, hot dogs, sodas, and tea are included.

Some details are still in the works, but one significant detail is confirmed. Jeff Sentell, author and sports writer for the Atlanta Journal & Constitution and DawgNation, will be on hand to entertain all with stories, observations and perhaps a prediction or two about the promising fall football season.

The evening will serve as an opportunity to congratulate and welcome rising freshmen and fire them up for their memorable years ahead. As a bonus, Mr. Sentell and perhaps other surprise guests will whet everyone's appetite for what promises to be an electrifying gridiron season.

So mark your calendars, buckle up your chinstraps and tell your Dawg friends to do the same.

For more information drop a line to Chapter President Valery Lang Lowe at:

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Lake Lanier Association to Celebrate 30th Anniversary Shore Sweep ~ the Largest Trash Cleanup Effort in Georgia

"30 Years & 1000 Tons of Fun!"

Georgia's Lake Sidney Lanier is the premier recreational destination and water resource for Atlantans and others from many miles around. Lanier annually attracts over 11 million visitors who sail, ski, camp or just cruise.

Imagine what lake life would be like if the litter and refuse from those millions of patrons accumulated on islands and shores for decades.

Thanks to the sustained efforts of the Lake Lanier Association - or LLA - one only need imagine that unattractive image. For thirty years LLA members and volunteers have united on an appointed day in September and toiled to make the lake area clean and safe.

On August 25 and September 15, 2018 LLA will host its 30th Anniversary Shore Sweep. August 25 will be a Volunteer Celebration and Band Party, and September 15 will be the traditional Shore Sweep across all of Lake Lanier.

Shore Sweep has grown each year in both number of volunteers and volume of junk removed. Today thousands of workers turn out on foot and by boat, truck and every imaginable vehicle. The event attracts lake residents, marina employees, recreational boaters and anyone else willing to lend a hand.

The amount of debris collected and removed now totals thousands of tons. Some teams compete to break records, with the current title holding crew having accounted for 9 tons of trash in 2017. Content ranges from cans and bottles to discarded tires, furniture, appliances - and even vessels themselves.

Lake Lanier Olympic Park - or LLOP - is known worldwide as the site of rowing and kayaking competition at Atlanta's 1996 Centennial Olympic Games. LLOP will be the venue for LLA's first ever August Shore Sweep Volunteer Celebration & Band Party. 

The day will feature live music by the Fly Betty Band, a water slide large enough even for adults - and much more. Wear your T-shirt from a previous Shore Sweep to receive a free prize.

The LLA will provide food, beverage and prizes patrons will talk about for ages. 


Saturday, August 25, Lake Lanier Olympic Park - LLOP
1 PM to 4 PM - 
Volunteer Celebration & Band Party

Saturday, September 15, Multiple Marina & Hub Sites
8 AM to 1 PM - Shore Sweep ~ All of Lake Lanier 

One important detail: Students or anyone needing credit for community service can earn it at Shore Sweep. Contact LLA for details.

So mark your calendars twice - on two different days.

If you love Lake Lanier or just want to participate in a fun and worthwhile environmental project, save these dates:

August 25, 2018 and September 15, 2018

The LLA will never host another 30th Anniversary Shore Sweep.

You will want to tell your friends, kids and grandkids that you were there. You will want to make them wish they were there. Or you can tell them now and bring them with you. The choice is yours.

For more information on how to participate or sponsor, call 770-503-7757 today. Operators are standing by, yet they may be busy. If so please leave a message that you want to help with Shore Sweep and any important details you can offer. Someone will get back to you as soon as possible.

Lake Lanier will thank you for it.

More detailed info is also available here.


Lake Lanier Association
North Georgia Community Foundation Building
615F Oak Street #200
Gainesville GA 30501

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Small Business Advisor & Karen Bershad Earn Certified Woman Owned Small Business Designation & Celebrate Their 22nd Anniversary of Making Client Lives Easier

With over 30 years of experience running several successful businesses, Karen Bershad knows and understands all the demands of business ownership. She leads an expert team at The Small Business Advisor to train and help your small business optimize your decisions for growth and financial data management.

The Small Business Advisor experts are proud to announce they are now recognized by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) as a Certified Woman Owned Small Business. This comes as the company also celebrates its 22nd year in business. That's makes for one memorable 2018.

The WBENC is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the U.S. and a leading advocate for women business owners and entrepreneurs.

WBENC's world-class certification is accepted by more than 1,000 corporations representing America's most prestigious brands, in addition to many states, cities and other entities.

The Small Business Advisor ~ or SBA ~ is a team that provides bookkeeping and comprehensive financial data services. Be sure to take in the audio of Karen telling her own great story.

SBA's personable and experienced professionals manage and support unique bookkeeping and reporting needs. All team members are highly educated and have a natural love for numbers.

SBA offers a full range of services, from turnkey financial company management to training of your staff.

While SBA staff members have decades of experience, they are not attorneys. Recognizing you may have the occasional need for legal advice in their financial decisions SBA offers LegalShield, affordable access to professional legal assistance.

Your financial success is SBA's driving motivation. The staff is thrilled when clients say good things about their performance.

SBA serves about every type of business. Their client experience includes car dealerships, real estate agents, agencies and investors, business services, accountants, attorneys, nonprofits and retail shops.

Because of their high level of expertise, SBA is able to apply their knowledge to almost any industry or business type. SBA serves clients across the US, from Georgia to Hawaii.

SBA believes an informed client is a successful client. They are happy to answer questions you may not have even thought to ask.

And SBA hardly stops with Q&A. They offer a series of articles to provide helpful suggestions and discuss issues of the day.

If you are consumed with bookkeeping and related functions that prevent you from the business you love to do, call The Small Business Advisor at 770-356-1234.

Do not be surprised if a very professional and skilled woman answers the phone.


Karen Bershad
The Small Business Advisor
1425 Market Boulevard
Suite 530-100
Roswell GA 30076

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Mass Media Group ~ The Right TV & Radio Airtime & Production for Companies Large & Small

Are your marketing efforts based on an old strategy? If so, you are running out of time. Do you aspire to gain TV and radio exposure but do not think you can afford it or do not know where to start?

The core focus of The Mass Media Group is buying half-hour blocks of TV & radio airtime in the USA and nearly every English speaking country worldwide. We offer those to you and help you produce an effective program. Before you know it your message is broadcast to your target audience at a lower cost than you thought possible.

We do not just make a media buy for you. Our successful style is a combination of market knowledge and diplomatic negotiation. We know the fair market value across the country based upon past and current contracts. As our client roster grows so do your savings.

The Mass Media Group is headed by dedicated professionals who want to grow your business no matter what it takes. Simply put, we outwork the competition.

Our disruptive marketing model includes business and sales development. By implementing our 5 techniques your media marketing will double sales in 12 months.

We work with organizations of all shapes and sizes and deliver focused media exposure that will launch you to the next level.

We at The Mass Media Group are driven by family values. Our mission is not to be the largest media buying agency, but instead the most respected for our work.

No written media can replace the customer experience of your message via sight or sound. This program demo is just one example of what we can do for you.

We're confident you'll find our skills among the very best available. Check out our online resources for the broader scope of out work.

Do you seek a personalized service to represent your business with its media marketing? The Mass Media Group wants to earn your business. We specialize in the purchase of TV & Radio airtime across the USA & abroad and turnkey program production. Give us a call at 888-848-8017 for a no strings attached consultation.


The Mass Media Group:
PO Box 8881
Greenville SC 29604

An Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Company

Tarkenton Financial ~ Meet the Business Partner You’ve Been Looking For

In the world of financial planning, many professionals seek to affiliate themselves with a larger organization.

Too often that organization offers primarily what is best for the organization. Not the financial planner, not the planner's customers. As an agent, does this sound familiar to you?

At Tarkenton Financial "You're never one of many. You're one of us."

Tarkenton Financial is about one thing: helping agents build the financial practice of their dreams. We believe financial professionals who find success create it themselves. They work every day to expand their reach, to see how they can serve someone.

We’ve built a team with broad experience that’s uniquely accessible to you. Tarkenton Financial is a family business, not only in ownership and operation, but in culture as well. Trust is at the heart of what we do, from your trust in us, to your clients’ trust in you.

While millions know Fran Tarkenton the NFL legend, and many know him as a successful entrepreneur, fewer know that Fran obtained his insurance license in 1959 at age 19. 

In his “free time” when not playing football he was the number-one insurance producer in Georgia for Franklin Life Insurance. He’s the same Fran Tarkenton who today is just as passionate about retirement income strategies and innovation in financial services.

Everyone knows that details can make or break a sale. Our unmatched support helps you be more effective and efficient, so that you can focus more on the sale and less on the prep.

Unlike other insurance marketing organizations, we do relatively little advertising. We don’t have to. We’re believers in having a reputation that precedes you.

No two clients are alike, especially when it comes to their financial objectives. At Tarkenton Financial, you can meet your clients’ diverse needs 
with our comprehensive suite of annuity and life insurance products from the nation’s most reputable carriers.

We are a boutique for high performers by design, because we believe success is derived not by focusing on the volume of professionals with whom we work, but on names and faces. We focus on you.

Meet Fran Tarkenton and you’ll understand why Tarkenton Financial is right for you. Welcome to an organization:

• Where boutique trumps big.
• Where a family-first philosophy meets a first-class image.
• Where you get to work with the best, because you are the best. Not because you say it, but because you prove it. Year in, year out.
• Where performance speaks for itself.

Do you aspire to greatness? If so, Fran would like to talk to you.


Fran Tarkenton
Tarkenton Financial, LLC
3340 Peachtree Rd NE, Suite 2300
Atlanta, GA 30326