Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do
As we all deal with the impact of COVID-19 and "Social Distancing", retail stores are heavily impacted.  In many cities and states non-essential stores are having to close their doors and look for creative ways to survive.  In this episode Thom Singer has an in-depth conversation with Amy Saldanha, the owner of kiddywampus, a specialty toy store in Minneapolis, MN.  Amy is also the incoming chair for the American Specialty Toy Store Association (ASTRA).
 
In this podcast they discuss the realities of running a small locally focused retail store in good times and in challenging times.  They share their thoughts and ideas about how all business people can get creative and work together to thrive in the future. 
 
About Amy Saldanha 
 
Amy Saldanha is founder and CEO of kiddywampus, a specialty toy retailer and destination for families in the Twin Cities. She is also the incoming Chair to the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association. Prior to founding and running kiddywampus in 2006, Amy practiced law as a civil litigator in Chicago, followed by stints in operations and talent management at several digital start-ups. Amy graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a bachelor's degree in political science and speech communications. She also holds a social sciences degree in political philosophy from the University of Kent in Canterbury, England. She earned her JD from Valparaiso School of Law. Amy also serves on the Board of Trustees at The Blake School, and the Boards of ResourceWest and Hopkins Business & Civic Association. She and her husband, Kenneth, have three children, all of whom are active at kiddywampus. 
 
About ASTRA
 
Founded in 1992, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is an international not-for-profit trade organization that serves more than 1,800 independent retailers, manufacturers and sales representatives of the specialty toy industry. ASTRA is a dedicated community of professionals committed to providing children with healthy, quality play materials that have high play value. ASTRA members build their businesses around specialty toys, which are designed with a focus on what the child can do, rather than what the toy can do. ASTRA members are leaders who have a positive influence the economy, culture and creativity of the communities they serve.
 
ASTRA provides members with access to networking, education, discounts, business products and services to assist our members as they grow their businesses. ASTRA Academy, which houses our education and training resources, was established to provide ASTRA members with on-demand access to up-to-the-minute training in an ever-changing industry. Marketplace & Academy is a four-day trade show and education conference featuring industry leaders and hands-on product demonstrations. The conference draws more than 450 exhibits and includes more than 30 hours of education.
 
A volunteer board of 14 retailers, manufacturers and sales representatives governs the associations.
 
Direct download: CTED_548.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:25pm EDT

Episode 547 is an in-depth conversation with Ian Lobas about change and reinvention.  We all face change, and how we jump in and embrace it helps us get to new highs.  Ian is a perfect example of doing this and finding success.  
 
A successful Entrepreneur, Real Estate Investor, Podcast Host, Speaker, and full time High Performance Coach, Ian Lobas absolutely loves life.  
 
After years of grinding it out in the shipping & real estate sales businesses and making sacrifices in every other area of his life, he was burnt out. The money, the power, the success, none of it mattered anymore. He was in a failing marriage and barely knew his kids. Everyday he would ask himself, is this really it, is this all there is to life? Am I meant to do this forever? How can I have the life I want in every area. Thats when Ian set out on a mission of intense personal development to figure out why he was avoiding fear, what was causing the pain, how to clear and remove it from his life and how to make sure it didn’t get between life and what really mattered to him, his family and living life fully with no regrets. 
 
For over 7 years, Ian & his wife Meredith have been successful and sought after to coach people around the world in the areas of mindset, business development, high performance, habits, health, relationships and clearing past traumas, to unleash the lives they have always dreamed of living. All of these people now live more complete, purposeful, fulfilled, balanced lives and are happier, healthier and more successful than ever before. 
 
Ian resides in Baltimore Maryland with his amazing wife Meredith, his daughter Ellis and brand new baby boy Price. In his spare time, he enjoys Travel, Flying Airplanes, Photography, Competitive Swimming, Racing Cars, Sailing, RV’ing &  exploring the world. 
 
To book a discovery call with Ian, please email ian@thelobasgroup.com.
 
 
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Direct download: CTED_547.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00pm EDT

The speaker for the March 31st Association for Corporate Growth luncheon in San Antonio was to be Lisa Fullerton, President and CEO of A Novel Idea.  Because of the COVID-19 situation, ACG Austin/San Antonio had to cancel their live events for the short term, but they wanted to ensure they could still provide content to their members and extended community. 
 
Lisa runs a successful business of five Auntie Anne's Pretzel stores and one co-branded Cinnabon franchise in San Antonio.  Her original presentation at the ACG lunch going to be about growth and longevity of her quick-serve restaurants in an industry with typical employee turnover at 200 percent.  She has kept going in the high-stress, high-burnout food service industry, and been in business 20 years, when the average life span of a quick-serve restaurant is 8.5 years.  She’s increased sales by 900 percent and staffing by 1,000 percent since opening her first store, and she’s also gotten involved in small business advocacy at the local, state, and federal levels.
 
This interview discusses all of the above, but Lisa is also candid about the current economic situation and her need to stop operations in most locations in the face of the pandemic. 
 
ACG Austin/San Antonio is grateful to Lisa for taking the time to do this interview.  Her support of the business community in San Antonio, Texas, the US, and the world is very clear in the message she shares.  ACG ASA looks forward to having her speak in-person at a future event, but in the meantime, please enjoy this podcast interview.
 
***Disclosure:  Thom Singer, host of "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do" is the husband of Sara Singer, the Chapter Executive of the ACG Austin/San Antonio Chapter.
 
About Lisa Fullerton 
 
Lisa Fullerton is the President and CEO of A Novel Idea, LLC (A.N.I) which operates 5 Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and 1 Co-branded Cinnabon Franchise in San Antonio, Texas.  Since opening the first store in 2000, sales have increased 900 percent and staffing has increased 1000 percent. Employee turnover is 200% in the high stress, high-burnout food service industry, and the average life span of a Quick-serve restaurant is 8.5 years.  Lisa is proud of the company’s 20-year history despite these odds.  As a result of increasingly unpredictable regulation and legislation, Lisa has started to advocate for small business at the local, state and federal levels in recent years.  During the 2017 Biennial session, Lisa worked with a US Congressman and State Representative on a bill to restrict state regulatory bills.  HB1290 was one of only 17% of the bills written that session, signed into law by the Texas State Governor.  During 2018, Lisa successfully fought against a Labor Peace Agreement that would have allowed labor unions to organize airport concessionaire employees.   During 2019, she was an outspoken opponent of Mandatory Paid Sick leave at the municipal level and testified repeatedly in the Texas House and Senate committee meetings.  She was also appointed by San Antonio’s Mayor Nirenberg to a Paid Sick Leave (PSL) task force representing the business perspective.  To stay abreast of potential legislation or regulations that can harm small business, Lisa serves on the NFIB Texas leadership council, is Public Policy Chair for NAWBO and a Director for the North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.
 
About ACG
 
Founded in 1954, the Association for Corporate Growth has chapters worldwide representing 14,500 members. ACG serves 90,000 investors, executives, lenders and advisers to growing middle-market companies. ACG's Mission is to drive Middle Market growth with content, access to capital, & connections in the Middle Market.
 
Direct download: CTED_ACG.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:06am EDT

The world has changed a lot in just the last week.  For Episode 545 of "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do" we will focus on leading through crisis with Mary Kelly.  This is important for business leaders, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and everyone.  
 
 
About Mary Kelly
 
Mary Kelly improves profit growth.  As an economist, corporate strategist, and leadership development expert, Mary translates economic data that leaders can use to make the right decisions for their business.  Cited in Money Magazine, Entrepreneur, Success, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and by over 500 TV and radio stations, Mary translates theory into action.   
 
One of the first women to graduate from the Naval Academy, Mary served 21 years as a commissioned officer on active duty in the Navy.  Some of her favorite jobs included being an intelligence officer, a counter terrorism officer, a chief of police, an HR director, running a pay and personnel organization, and being part of the team in charge of Pearl Harbor. With a PhD in economics, she was a military professor at the Naval Academy and a civilian professor at the Air Force Academy.
 
She grew up in a small business family, and started working trade shows when she was 10 years old.
 
 
Author of 13 business and leadership books including 15 Ways to Grow Your Business in Every Economy, Money Smart, Master Your World, 360 Degrees of Leadership, Stop the Barking, Why Leaders Fail and the 7 Prescriptions for Success, 5-Minutes Per Week and 52 Weeks to Building a Better Business, and Who Comes Next? Leadership Succession Planning Made Easy, Mary can be found at Mary@ProductiveLeaders.com.  
 
About the Book "Who Comes Next, Leadership Succession Planning Made Easy
 
 
Leaders leave. It's inevitable. It might even happen today. Are you prepared?
 
Every organization needs a plan for leadership succession, but few leaders know how to start the process. WHO COMES NEXT? solves that problem and easily guides you through the steps of creating and implementing a viable succession plan.
 
This essential guidebook simplifies the process and gives you the tools you need to build and activate your leadership succession. You’ll find a comprehensive action plan, a library of all the tools needed to develop and sustain your plan, and a resource guide. You’ll learn how to:
 
*Communicate with customers about the change
*Identify talent gaps in your succession plan
*Decide which succession planning model to adapt
*Find your next generation of leadership within your organization
*Handle the unique emotional complexities of succession in a family-owned business
 
 
Whether you are part of a small, family business, a Fortune 500 company or a non-profit, you need to start now by answering the question: WHO COMES NEXT?
 
Direct download: CTED_545.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

Episode 544 of "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do" is a wonderful interview with entrepreneur Tucker Max.  You may have heard of Tucker in the past.  He came to fame about 19 years ago with a funny email to friends (that went viral) where he lambasted the law firm where he was a summer clerk.  He was fired a week later, but not because of the letter (you have to hear the real reason).
 
Tucker went on to be a famous blogger and book author, highlighting his bad-boy "fratire" lifestyle.  But today Tucker Max is a married man, father of three (thinking about a 4th), and a successful business entrepreneur.  He is the co-founder of Scribe Media.... an Austin based book writing and publishing company.  Having written 12 books, Thom Singer understands what it takes and appreciates the service that Tucker and Scribe provide.
 
Check out this episode. 
 
About Tucker Max
 
Tucker Max is the co-founder of Scribe Media, a company that helps people write, publish and market their books.
 
He has written four New York Times Best Sellers, which have sold over 4.5 million copies worldwide. He's credited with being the originator of the literary genre, “fratire,” and is only the third writer (after Malcolm Gladwell and Michael Lewis) to ever have three books on the New York Times Nonfiction Best Seller List at one time. He was nominated to the Time Magazine 100 Most Influential List in 2009.
 
He received his BA from the University of Chicago in 1998, and his JD from Duke Law School in 2001. He currently lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife Veronica and three children.
 
Direct download: CTED_544.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:09pm EDT

People do not usually respond well to uncertainty and overwhelm.  Issues happening all over the world with Coronavirus are is creating stress.  This stress is impacting everyone because currently there is more uncertainty and overwhelm than ever.  
 
Eliz Greene is the author of the new book, “Stress-proof Your Heart" and a leading expert on leadership in times of uncertainty and overwhelm.  She joins the conversation on episode 543 of Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do to talk about how business leaders can manage their stress and that of their employees and customers. 
 
Business owners, entrepreneurs, leaders, and others are all having to make decisions quickly that are impacting their business and personal lives. Everyone is facing the stress.  Our brains do not like uncertainty. Our brains like predictability.
 
Uncertainty is perceived as unsafe and potentially painful. Whether the situation is predictably positive or predictably negative, your brain prefers something familiar to something unfamiliar.  Under stress, our brains depend on instinct rather than rational thought because the part of the brain responsible for critical thinking is busy dealing with the psychological reaction to stress. This reaction not only impedes productivity, but it can also create a paralyzing loop of anxiety.
 
You can’t just grit your teeth through unrelenting uncertainty. Don’t beat yourself up for having a natural reaction; you aren’t a bad person, a lousy time manager, or lazy—you are stressed. Notice your stress reaction, and decide to take steps to address it.
 
The information we are getting about Coronavirus is changing by the hour. We are experiencing unprecedented uncertainty. We need to think creatively, but our brains are not getting there. 
 
How can you stay relevant to your customers?  You have to be open and communicate.  Can your provide other services, or just thank your customers for their business.  We need to be personal and not just email blast our lists with Coronavirus branded newsletters.  Mass emails are not reducing stress.  It is adding to overwhelm. 
 
This episode is a must-hear and one you should share with others.
 
About Eliz Greene
 
Eliz Greene is ridiculously excited about stress.  She not only finds the chemical reaction in the body caused by stress fascinating, but stress is also her favorite topic to speak about, write about, or discuss in line at the grocery store.
 
With a surgically repaired heart, Eliz also knows stress management isn’t a ‘nice-to-have,’ but rather an essential survival skill. Surviving a heart attack at age 35 while seven months pregnant with twins propelled Eliz on a mission to share her story to inspire other busy people to pay attention to their health. Just days after her heart stopped and she endured open heart surgery and a cesarean section delivery, Eliz held both her daughters together for the first time.
 
Amazingly, despite the pain and uncertainty, what she felt most strongly was contentment. Her priorities were crystal clear. She knew she’d been given a second chance at life and a unique perspective for a reason.
 
Recognizing stress as an essential and often under-addressed risk factor, Eliz conducted a research study on job stress. Her research uncovered the secrets of how purpose-driven organizations create corporate cultures immune to overwhelm and uncertainty.
 
She writes a Top Health and Wellness Blog. She was named as a Top Online Influencer on Stress and Heart Health. She’s been seen on CNN, PBS, Lifetime, TNT, and many national and local news programs. A national spokesperson and advocate for the American Heart Association, Eliz received the Heart Hero Award in 2010. More recently, she has partnered on the Take Cholesterol To Heart campaign.
 
 
Direct download: CTED_543.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

The meetings industry is being hit hard and fast by event cancellations in the wake of the Coronavirus. For many there is a panic on what to do if their participants cannot come or the whole convention is cancelled.  How to un a virutal meeting is being talked about all across the world.  But hosting a virtual event is not simply livestreaming speakers or holding a webinar.  You have to do it right if you want to engage your audience.
 
As a keynote speaker and professional master of ceremonies / emCee, Thom Singer is trying to monitor all that is occurring in the meetings industry.  Thom knows a little about virtual events (he and Eliz Green have hosted several events with their "Conference Talk Show" product)... but Thom knows that if you want to really be informed you have to talk to the experts.  Thom always says "Success Leaves Clues" so he turned to the leader in the world of virtual conferences, Jim Parker.  Jim has been working with live events for 35 years, and began live streaming conferences 11 years ago.  
 
In episode 542 of "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do" thom asks Jim for details on how to run a virtual meeting?  WOW, if you have never run a digital version of a conference, you have to hear what Jim has to say on this podcast. They talk mistake, technology, attendee engagement, bringing virtual attendees to the live event next year, and many other best practices.
 
Find out more about Digitell Inc at https://digitellinc.com/
 
About Jim Parker
 
Jim Parker is President and CEO of Digitell, Inc., a full service multimedia company that specializes in Live Streaming, High End Webcasts and Content Capture/Distribution Systems.  Mr. Parker is a 35 year veteran in the conference industry, servicing 90 organizations, such as the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). With a staff of over 50, Digitell provides their clients with everything from consulting and event management, to registration and web page creation, live streaming, webcasts, content capture, tech support and event reporting. A civil engineer by trade, Jim’s analytical approach to the logistics necessary to execute the services Digitell offers, has provided them with a reputation of offering “best practice” products, services and customer support.
 
About Digitell
 
Digitell, Inc. is a Digital Multimedia Development company specializing in assisting organizations on how to leverage their educational content online. With over 35 years’ experience servicing 150 organizations, Digitell utilizes this wealth of experience and knowledge to assist their clients in developing customized and cutting edge solutions to capturing, delivering and managing their online education. From their newly released education APP, to OPUS DX, a feature rich, fully managed Digital Experience Platform, their services are designed to engage users with a superior digital experience while accessing  live streams, webinars and on-demand education. Digitell can meet the needs of any organization looking to bring their conference or education online.  To learn more visit digitellinc.com.
 
About Thom Singer
 
Thom Singer is a keynote speaker, emcee, and digital event host (see http://www.ConferenceTalkShow.com).  He is the host of two podcasts and the author of 12 books.  
 
Direct download: CTED_542.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:02pm EDT

Episode 541 of “Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do” is co-produced in partnership with the Austin Technology Council, the largest tech industry organization in Central Texas. ATC empowers members through insights, resources, and connections so their members can succeed and thrive. This episode is an in-depth interview with Steve Meier, Co-Founder and Chief Creativity Officer for KungFu.AI. Check out this conversation about life, entrepreneurship, and Austin.
 
About Steve Meier - Co-founder & Chief Creative Officer, KUNGFU.AI
 
Steve Meier, a former teacher turned technology evangelist, spent 15 years working in business development, marketing, product management, and creative strategy for Fortune 500 technology companies before co-founding KUNGFU.AI where he leads client strategy and creativity. Steve's passion is emerging technologies and worked closely with IBM Watson, leveraging Watson APIs to create innovative sales and marketing tools. Steve recently acquired a Certificate from MIT Sloan School of Management in Artificial Intelligence: Implications for Business Strategy.
 
About KUNGFU.AI
 
KUNGFU.AI is an artificial intelligence services agency. We help clients start and accelerate advanced data science programs by providing strategy, development and transformation services. We put a healthy focus on practical AI application where we find quick wins at the intersection between key business objectives, data availability, and proven ML techniques. 
 
Direct download: CTED_541.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:01pm EDT

In episode 540 of "Cool Things Entrepreneurs Do" Thom Singer talks about the business of speaking and the meetings industry in the face of the spread of the Coronavirus. While live meetings bring people together, in the face of a possible pandemic, many companies and associations are canceling their conferences.  This impacts more than the hosts and the attendees.  There are many types of vendors (maybe about 50 per event) that earn their living from serving live events.
 
Speakers, hotels, transportation, meeting planning companies, catering, bars, restaurants, bands, DJs, sign makers, etc... are all part of what makes a meeting amazing. When meetings cancel the economic impact can have a giant ripple effect. 
 
But this virus can impact all kinds of business, and Thom encourages entrepreneurs to be thinking about what this means.  Entrepreneurs are problem solvers.... and this virus could become a big problem that will impact the whole world.  Not just in getting people sick, but in hurting the global economy.
 
Thom shares and idea he had in a brainstorming call with a client who is worried about their association annual meeting being canceled or having low attendance.  His idea is for her to create a branded podcast and interview all 50 speakers (keynote speakers and breakout speakers) to create individual episodes.  Not just webinar data dumps, but in-depth interviews and conversations on their important topics. 
 
He also shares a couple of emails he has received this week about the virus and how one company he knows, BigSpeak, sent a wonderful reminder to speakers to not panic.  That the meetings industry and speaking business have faced health and other disruptive events in the past.  They also provided simple things to pay attention to for health and business.  Thom sees a lot of "hype" out there, but appreciates companies and people who are providing value in a noisy Coronavirus world.
 
Check out this episode of his podcast and share it with a friend if they need an upbeat message in a scary time.
 
Direct download: CTED_540.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:00am EDT

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