Friday, August 31, 2018

Gaynes Financial Services ~ Wealth Management & Estate Planning Super Heroes

Aretha Franklin Died with the World's Respect. 
Yet She Did Not Have a Will.

This means The Queen of Soul’s estimated $80 million fortune will not be settled efficiently according to Ms. Franklin’s documented wishes. It will be settled very inefficiently by a Michigan probate court - and many other courts of law.

If one dies without a will or other legal documents to be discussed here, one is said to die “intestate”. With intestate succession, or the distribution of property, laws vary widely from state to state. If the deceased held assets in multiple states the complexity of succession becomes substantially more complicated.

A signed and witnessed will is the most basic legal document by which a person designates how their estate should be settled and possessions distributed after they die. The person designates an executor, whose job is to pay all debts and apportion what remains according to instructions of the deceased.

A will is revocable and subject to amendment at any time during one's lifetime. It can also be contested by heirs on a variety of grounds. Heirs may claim the deceased was of unsound mental capacity or was unduly influenced. If a will is successfully challenged it can be voided in whole or in part.

A living trust is another legal document that provides lifetime and after-death property management. If a living trust is properly written and funded one can avoid probate on assets, plan for the possibility of their own incapacity and prevent their financial affairs from becoming a matter of public record.

A living trust is more expensive to set up than a typical will because it must be actively managed after it is created. It must be funded, and it controls only those assets that have been placed in the trust.

Beyond a will or living trust is state and federal estate or inheritance tax, not so popularly also known as “death tax”. Rumors that estate tax has been repealed abound. Though it has again been modified, federal estate tax has not been repealed.

Federal estate tax applies only to individuals with a net worth of over $11 million, for a married couple, $22 million. That still affects a significant number of affluent Americans. It will certainly affect the estate of Aretha Franklin.

Proper estate planning can address any number of issues following one’s death. 

  • Right of survivorship can transfer jointly owned assets to a spouse without the need for an executor. 
  • Trusts of many varieties serve to control and preserve assets, during one’s life and upon theirs death. 
  • Trusts may be revocable and irrevocable. Life insurance trusts and testamentary trusts have unique applications and benefits. 

Upon one’s death a myriad of factors come into play.
 A single person with children faces different issues than a single person without children or a married person with children. Unmarried couples and domestic partners face unique issues of their own.

If the deceased owns real estate or other fixed assets in a state other than where they reside, without a will the state in which that property is located will determine ownership.

In the case of Aretha Franklin and her $80 million net worth, estate settlement will indeed be a time consuming and pain staking process. Years will pass before determinations are made and heirs receive property. Vast sums that could go to those heirs will instead go to attorneys, and, in all likelihood, federal and state governments.

Regardless of one’s net worth, be it $100,000, $80 million or something in between, estate planning is essential to ensure that net worth is preserved during one’s life and distributed as one wished upon death.

The Value of a Trusted Advisor

Having a strong relationship with an advisor can help you be better prepared to live your life through the ups and downs of the market. That’s the value of discipline, perspective, and calm. That’s the difference the right financial advisor makes.


David Gaynes
Gaynes Financial Services

Tradeshows Plus ~ Judi Baker-Neufeld & 30 Plus Years of Corporate Event Creativity

As a little girl Judi Baker-Neufeld could not sit still. People commented that if her body was constantly in motion, and it was, her mind moved at an even faster pace. They could not define it really. It was not hyperactivity. It was not ADHD even before that was a term.

It was something different. Young Judi was interested in just about everything around her. As she bounced physically and mentally from one object of interest to another, she would focus on whatever that was with intensity that defied her age.

This manifest itself in Judi asking questions, describing and exaggerating physical characteristics - and telling stories about that given object of interest at the moment.

In other words, creativity on steroids.

Fast forward to college. Earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Philadelphia’s renowned The University of the Arts, Judi let creativity flow exploring illustration, photographic media, screenprinting and more. She trained to be an art director.

Early in her career Judi continued to ask questions and tell stories. Rather than restricting her activity to the museum or institutional world, she found herself exploring creativity in the corporate world. Specifically, the world of corporate conventions, trade shows and special events.

“Happening upon various conferences and meetings in my early professional life, I asked myself, ‘Why are so many of these functions so darn dull?’ I imagined to myself and suggested to event sponsors and participants the many things they could do to make things more, fun, interesting - and memorable.”

Some event performances that Judi witnessed were just plain embarrassing.

Acting on those notions led Judi to a celebrated and award winning career of making corporate events fun, interesting and memorable. Anyone who has ever attended an event that Judi Baker-Neufeld remotely influenced will likely remember a lot or at lease something about being there. And, more than likely, they will remember the company that hired Judi and the message they wanted her to help drive home.

Judi has long theorized, “At any event a company only has one shot to do it right, tell their story well and make it memorable. With a little creativity - or a lot - businesses can reveal their personality and endear themselves to customers by offering or doing something their audience has never seen or experienced before."

In the 1980's Judi was hired as International Program Director for Giltspur, a global leader in trade show exhibit design and production. Her task was to develop and introduce innovative marketing services no other 'display house' offered. Such services included show staff training, show research, lead management and promotions. These were perhaps the first services offered in the industry to enhance and measure a company's return on their events 

One of many
 notable examples 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.

One could say Judi safely navigated her employer to success in those endeavors.

A decade later Judi founded her owned events marketing and promotions company, Tradeshows Plus. There she enhances event experiences for such clients as GE, Goodyear, Kohler, Kemper,
Pratt & Whitney and Experian.

Judi's modesty makes her uncomfortable talking about recognition, yet we were able to secure the inside scoop via the Freedom of Information Act. Tradeshows Plus awards includes Nobel Prizes, Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys, Pulitzers, Peabodys, ADDYs, Clios, and several AKC Best of Show honors.

Contact Tradeshows Plus today to discover how Judi can make your next function the successful event no one will ever forget.


Tradeshows Plus

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Celebrating the Life of Friend & Selfless National Hockey League Veteran ~ Kurt Walker & Dignity After Hockey

In 1985 Kurt Walker invited me to a Legends of Hockey fundraiser game he organized for a cause I can not recall. It was indicative of charitable acts Kurt would perform his entire life.

The venue was Chicago's UIC Pavilion, and Kurt fulfilled his promise that big names would take the ice. Following a spirited contest I walked down to the rink.

The first to skate off was Gordie Howe. Followed by Bobby Hull. Then came Stan Mikita. Then Keith Magnuson. And other Hall of Famers. Each slowed as they exited, likely expecting that I wanted their autograph.

I felt I had to say something, probably, "Thanks, I'm waiting for Kurt Walker." They grinned politely and continued on without comment. If I had to guess, they were probably thinking ...

"Then you must be waiting for a fight."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I did not know then what I know now. In 1985 I knew Kurt only as a genuine, smart and immensely fun guy to be around - who happened to have played a few years in the NHL. I had no clue he was a legendary enforcer for his beloved Toronto Maple Leafs.

Kurt and I were fellow sales guys for the same corporate events company. The firm moved me to Chicago and Kurt to Boston to open their first regional sales offices. I never made it to Boston during those years, but I hosted Kurt often on his business trips to Chicago. The "Legends" game is one of few experiences I can share about our times together in a family friendly document.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Fast forward 30+ years. Not long ago I messaged Kurt via some new age medium that confused both of us, "Hey, are you in Georgia now? I just moved back for the first time since 1984."

Weeks later he apologized for messaging ineptitude and replied, "Ya man! I am in Roswell - let's get together." Sadly, we never did.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Kurt passed away on August 17 after a freak injury that was no doubt a result of long term abuse to his body decades after his athletic career came to an end.

Kurt's memorial service and life celebration were amazing. 

On the left is trade show industry legend Johnny Merritt. I am pretty sure he introduced me to Kurt. Johnny too has colorful Kurt Walker stories to share, many of which may not be of a family friendly nature.

Folks who claimed to not be adept at public speaking were in fact more than adept. 

Two speakers are pictured below on the right. I must identify those two on the left. They were most colorful and engaging conversationalists, yet I did not get their names.

Since first draft I learned that the gent on far left is Willi Plett. To his right is Eric Vail. Both are former Atlanta & Calgary Flames. See NHL cards for them and Kurt at bottom of this article.)

First to take the podium was former Atlanta Flame Richard Mulhern, who once looked like this:

Richard now looks like this. He has held up remarkably better than the guy to his left.

Next to speak was former Atlanta Flame & Maple Leaf Tim Ecclestone, who once looked like this:

Tim now looks like the 2nd guy from the right in the foursome above.

Richard and Tim spoke of Kurt's courage, loyalty, drive, spontaneity and generosity. They too confessed to having many stories not appropriate for a family friendly audience.

Last to speak was Kurt's daughter Zoe. She shared touching memories of her Dad as only a Daddy's girl could.

One constant prevailed throughout this day of celebration:

Kurt Walker lived his life to help others. He relished in it. More often than not he helped those who had zero opportunity to return the favor.

Kurt's dedication to those in need is manifest in Dignity After Hockey. Kurt founded the non-profit group to assist former professional hockey players who have fallen on hard times. 

Dignity After Hockey lives on through the efforts of Kurt Walker's friends and family. They ask that you honor the life of this great man by making a donation to continue Kurt's mission.


Dignity After Hockey

Postscript: Having learned the identity of two NHL legends pictured above it is fitting to share images from their playing days:

Just received a Kurt NHL card. Never knew he played for the Kings.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Three Members of the Kappa Deuteron Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity Earn University of Georgia 40 Under 40 Honors

Founded in 1785, the University of Georgia is the birthplace of public higher education in America. UGA is recognized among the leading colleges in the US.

According to UGA By the Numbers:

"Kiplinger Magazine ranks UGA 12th in its 2018 list of the “100 Best Values in Public Colleges.” U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 “Best Colleges” edition has UGA ranked 16th among public universities while Forbes lists UGA No. 17 on its list of colleges that dominate both academically and athletically."

The University of Georgia annually recognizes the 40 Under 40, "young alumni leading the pack in their industries and communities."

Let's be generous and take 25 as a UGA student's age at graduation. There are 315,000 living UGA alumni. Roughly 20% of Americans are age 25 to 40. That would suggest 63,000 UGA alumni are eligible for 40 Under 40 honors.

Whether or not our analytics hold up to scrutiny, it is safe to conclude the UGA 40 Under 40 is an elite group.

The Kappa Deuteron Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta at the University of Georgia is pleased to announce three of its graduate members earned 2018 40 Under 40 recognition. 

From left to right, they are:


Associate Professor – Department of Emergency Medicine
University of Alabama – Birmingham


Vice President of Creative
ole Song LLC


Director of Intelligence Programs
National Security Council

U.S. Navy

To say that these men excel in dissimilar fields is an understatement. Yet they bear one common bond. They are Brothers in Kappa Deuteron Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta at the University of Georgia

Scott Irvine, John Ozier and Latham Saddler exemplify the excellence fostered at Kappa Deuteron.

Irvine, Ozier and Latham will unite with all 40 Under 40 honorees for a September 13 Awards Luncheon at the Georgia Aquarium.

Phi Gamma Delta's axioms include, "Not for college days alone." and "Mighty proud to be a FIJI." Truer words can not be spoken.


University of Georgia by the Numbers
UGA 40 Under 40 Class of 2018

Thursday, August 23, 2018

FinTech, Big Data & Analytics Made Simple

Big Data.

The very mention of any of these three terms can make the layperson cringe. Or run to a favorite search engine for clarification. That dusty old Oxford English Dictionary on the bookshelf will be of no help.

Even a voracious reader of financial and technical news may scratch their head when asked to explain what each means. They might think they get it, but can they articulate it?

Let’s first look at FinTech. That is a problematic place to start, as one source describes FinTech as a “portmanteau” of some other things. We have hardly even begun, yet we already have to rush to the Oxford English Dictionary.

For the record, portmanteau means combining two terms into one. Why couldn’t they just say that? It can also mean a large suitcase, but probably not in the context of FinTech.

FinTech, or fintech if you do not want to make it look fancy, is a word that emerged in common language around the time of the 2007 financial collapse. Investors then put their money into financial technology instead of dicey traditional financial institutions. Investors like to talk fast, so they crammed financial technology into one word.

The term began as a phrase related to back office technology at banks and the like. FinTech has evolved and expanded to address a broad range of technological innovation in the financial sector. That covers a lot of stuff, even funky forms of money like bitcoin. We dare not address bitcoin here because we have more than enough to do.

This takes us to Big Data, two very recognizable words. Fortunately no one felt it necessary to remove the space in between and smash them together to create an annoying portmanteau.

One could reasonably assume Big Data to mean data, just a whole lot of it. One would not be far wrong, but we can not leave it at that. What it really means is kinda like this. So many more people collect so much more data so much faster than ever before we do not know what to do with it all. Since we can’t figure out where to put it, let’s at least create a new term for it. That way we can feel like we accomplished something.

Now that someone named it, we must figure out what to do with Big Data. That means some machine more sophisticated than your old desktop PC with floppy disks. We need far more advanced technology to collect data, process it, analyze it and transfer it.

While we are at the task of transferring Big Data, we must decide whether or not we want to share it with others or just move it from one place to another. This is occasionally a touchy subject, especially when something gets shared when it was only supposed to be moved. Kinda like a leaky oil tanker.

Working with a whole bunch of data takes us to our third and final uncomfortable word, analytics. Analytics also became a fairly commonly used term sometime around 2007. It should be obvious, but we needed a noun better than analysis to describe all of the analyzing people were doing with all that data.

Analytics also covers a lot of ground, but we will try to keep it simple. We must first figure out what we need to answer a certain question. We then determine what data we need to get to an answer. 
Someone must collect and process that data, then figure out what it means when the data gets crunched. Analytics is pretty much on the front and back end of that process.

One of many things analytics is good for is to remind us of old sayings. We have all heard you can manipulate data to come up with any result you want. We can counter that with another saying, garbage in, garbage out. An expert in analytics will quickly detect if someone put garbage in, and that will destroy the reputation of whoever put it there.

If we really wanted to get into the weeds we could talk about the differences between predictive, prescriptive, descriptive and cognitive analytics. We will refrain from doing that, not only because we are reaching maximum word count, but also because we have no idea what those different types of analytics are.

Yet we do know this. FinTech, Big Data and analytics are increasingly important to do a lot of things a lot better than we have ever been able to do them before. Whereas we used to have to somewhat guess, we can now know and predict things with far greater certainty. Whereas tricksters used to be able to fudge, it is exponentially harder for bad actors to get away with such trickery.

The culmination of all this leads to artificial intelligence. We are waiting for our desktop PC with floppy disks to write that article without us having to do any work. It is a good thing we are patient.

Monday, August 20, 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

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 such as piglet races 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 ladies on 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. Yet at our meeting with Joyce Sloane I sensed something was amiss.

Whereas Joyce struck me as very laid back, the ladies on my team were pretty stoked up. I included that in my copious notes. What I also wrote down was my gut that Joyce was not buying the collaboration we were 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 people 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. (She commented, "They like anything and everything 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, pig races at the 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 sales of sporting events.

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. In other words, business theater.

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 these ideas from me.