Sheraton Tampa East Hotel – This Place is Great – You Just Have to See It

I took the family to Tampa’s new Sheraton (Sheraton Tampa East Hotel) this past weekend and was immediately blown away by the beautiful design and decor of this hotel. My first impression was that an artist must have designed this space. The lobby feels huge, bright and inviting; there are unique nuances to the architecture that compel you to stop and just enjoy the view before checking in to your room. There were so many areas for guests to sit privately or in large groups within the lobby and multiple computer stations. This is a great feature for business-minded people staying at the hotel.

Although this particular trip was for pleasure; as an event planner, I never miss an opportunity to scout an entire property to establish which types of events would do well at the location. Most hotels are designed around a certain type of audience and event, so they can’t accommodate anything outside of that target audience – at least not well.  However, the Sheraton Tampa East has meeting space for every kind of event and the meeting spaces are separated in such a way that multiple events could be taking place simultaneously without interfering with one another. There were board rooms, a grand ballroom, smaller dining areas and a hallway of smaller meeting spaces that would be great for break-out sessions. It is difficult to find spacious pre-function areas for receptions or event registrations anymore because many hotels have chosen to condense those spaces into crowded hallways. I was delighted to see multiple pre-function options that would add class  and efficiency to any event. If you’re an event planner, contact Judy Hollister at (T- 813-246-7120  M - 813-957-3380). She took the time to give me a full tour after normal business hours on a Friday – very nice!

The staff gave impeccable service from the registration desk to the extreme cleanliness of our room. They made us feel like welcomed guests. This hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service to many area restaurants and attractions. We took advantage of this service on our first night and the driver was very knowledgeable about the local area. He asked about the kind of evening we wanted and made recommendations accordingly. We chose dinner at The Cheesecake Factory at The Westfield Brandon Mall, which was only minutes away from the hotel.

We also enjoyed the lovely pool area, which was very clean and set in a relaxing atmosphere. Just off of the pool deck was the large fitness room, filled with many workout options. Admittedly, I did not work out; but keep in mind, this was a pleasure trip. A couple of other notable features are the well shaded complimentary parking lot, the computerized reader board for searches of the local area and things happening on-site, the excellent food served in their upscale Panfilio’s Bar and Grille restaurant and one of my favorites: a 100% non-smoking facility policy.

It may seem like I have gushed a bit too much here, but I am not usually impressed by a hotel and the Sheraton Tampa East Hotel was a first class experience. I would highly recommend that you book a room and check it out for yourself. Then feel free to let me know if I am way off base or, as usual, spot on with my assessment.

Yours Truly,


Why I’m a Big Fan of Macy’s in Sarasota

Dean Burnside, Owner of Macy’s Pest Control Sarasota

Recently, I sat down for lunch at the newly reopened Don Pablo’s in Sarasota (a habit of mine lately) with Dean Burnside, Owner of Macy’s Termite & Pest Control. Dean and I have become acquainted lately thanks to an introduction from a good friend of mine who thought that the two of us would be like-minded.

It turns out we are. Dean operates his company with a very unique approach—one rooted in principles of business that are entirely Scriptural in nature. In fact, the first time we met, he described their operation as a, “for-profit ministry disguised as a pest control company.”

A quick aside: if you thought I was referring to Macy’s Department Store, my deepest apologies. Actually, I’m a big fan of that Macy’s in Sarasota as well. (Well… both, actually, since they have 2 locations.) I always get great service, and I was thrilled when they brought the famous Macy’s brand to town a few years ago, replacing the native-Floridian Burdines brand.

When it comes to pest control, Sarasota residents have quite a few options. Dean is well aware of this, of course. And in a competitive environment like this one, you might wonder why someone would bother trying to present their company publicly as one that upholds the highest standards of ethics, integrity, honesty and excellence. Businesses are being scrutinized quite enough without the added pressure.

But for Dean, the answer is simple. If his business doesn’t operate with excellence—whether it’s a salesperson who tells the truth or a service technician who delivers on the company’s promises—Dean’s company not only won’t grow and be profitable, but they also won’t have a valid platform to share what Dean calls, the “Good News.”

How Macy’s Termite & Pest Control Got Their Name

You might be wondering how a Sarasota pest control company owned by someone whose name is Burnside got the name Macy’s. Actually it’s a great story. The founder of the company is John Macy, who brought Dean on in the mid-1990s. John naturally lent his surname to the company—long before the other Macy’s came to town—and ultimately sold the company to Dean in about 1998.

Since the business already had a great reputation, Dean saw no need to change the company’s name, and has grown it considerably since then. Several years ago, John Macy showed up at Dean’s doorstep wondering if there was a role for him to play. Sure enough! Macy is now the company’s ambassador, and does lots of networking and assorted goodwill-generating stuff for the business. All these years later, the two make quite a team.

The Macy’s Termite & Pest Control name isn’t without its quirks, however. Dean says he routinely gets calls in November from people looking for tickets to the parade. His staff has the telephone numbers of the local stores handy to give out to people who call the wrong place. There’s even the occasional billing question that lands in their accounting department when people think they’ve already paid their Macy’s bill.

Dean’s a good sport about it, though. It isn’t unusual for the company to give out Macy’s gift cards to employees or as prizes in company promotions.

Under the Hood

Since my team and I are known for Nourish The Dream and the events we conduct around the country related to doing business according to Kingdom principles, Dean opened up his operations to me and allowed me to get a first-hand look at how they run things. As Zig Ziglar says, “What’s in the warehouse needs to match what’s in the showroom.” This is the case with Macy’s Pest Control.

I’m sure they disappoint a customer once in a while, and I have no doubt there are conflicts that arise in their business as in any other. But when you see a commitment to make things right and to really live up to the high standards someone sets, then you know you’re dealing with people of integrity.

An example that comes to mind deals with being a leader in green pest control. Sure… a lot of people are jumping on the environmentally friendly bandwagon, but Dean and his team see this as a lot more than a marketing gimmick.

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28 NKJV)

Referencing the above Scripture, Dean will tell you that he sees this commandment and others like it as a mandate from God to take care of the planet. In an industry that makes wide use of chemicals, he sees it as his responsibility to operate with policies and procedures that do as little harm to the environment as possible. And plenty of others have taken notice, including Natural Awakenings, which has awarded Macy’s Pest Control their “Green Business of the Year” award several years running.

Next time you’re in need of a pest control solution in Sarasota, Bradenton, Venice and the surrounding communities, I urge you to give Macy’s a shout. Make sure you let ’em know we sent ya!

Local Pine View Student Improving Environment Through Mote Marine Internship

Spencer getting ready for Coral Transplant Dive

Sarasota, FL June 5, 2012 — Spencer Lasday, a sophomore at Pine View School in Sarasota, received a singular honor among high school students in being selected to perform environmental research at Mote Marine’s Tropical Research Station near Key West. The trip was part of the Mote Marine Laboratory High School Internship Program, a highly-competitive program that provides a few, select high school students with a dynamic, hands-on marine science experience which complements their traditional advanced academic studies.

Hammering away at coral reefs nearly 60 feet underwater, Spencer alarmed other divers who thought he was damaging the reef. Gina Santoianni, Spencer’s dive partner and Director of the Mote Marine Laboratory High School Internship program, looked on with amusement as Spencer tried to communicate to the concerned divers that he was actually restoring the reef.

“Spencer really enjoys diving, so this project was a great fit for him,” said Gina.

Spencer with Gina Santoianni, coordinator of Mote Marine High School Internship Program

The work on the reef is part of the internship program, which partnered with the internationally known Coral Reef Restoration Foundation from Key Largo, FL in an effort to ensure the health of this important part of Florida’s underwater ecosystem. The project requires clearing away dead coral to make way for the new coral which is hand-planted, one coral polyp at a time.

In addition to multiple SCUBA dives working on the reef, Spencer also cleaned up fishing lines in mangroves and learned about Dolphins at the Dolphin Research Center while in Key West.

“It’s been a great privilege to be part of the internship at Mote,” said Spencer. “The program is competitive, which I found out first-hand when I was not accepted the first time I applied.   I love the ocean, and I truly enjoy science.  I was looking for a way to combine something I loved to do as a hobby, like SCUBA diving, with a way to be proactive and help make my part of the world a little better place.  In this part of Florida, the water is everywhere and you see it all the time.  But you only see the surface.  So much of this planet is hidden from us, under the water, but even what we can’t see is so critical to life above the water.    Coral reefs are maybe 1% of the ocean floor, but support 25% of all marine life. They provide feeding areas and safe nurseries for the fish we eat.  They provide breakwaters to protect our shores.  And just like the rainforests on land, there is untapped potential for medicines and treatments for so much human illness.  I can’t thank Gina and the staff at Mote enough for exposing me to the most amazing things about my own backyard.”

Spencer is the only student from Pine View — Florida’s only school dedicated to intellectually gifted students — who was accepted into the internship program this year.

In addition to this research trip, Spencer has also spent time behind the scenes with the animal trainers at Mote in the Marine Mammal Rehabilaitation Hospital, and behind the scenes at The Living Seas at Epcot, one of the largest man-made ocean environments in the world.  He’s been a tour guide on kayak trips through Sarasota Bay, maintained tanks at Mote’s Sarasota facility, and participated in the Youth Ocean Conservation Summit, a statewide gathering of students dedicated to conservation and renewal efforts for the ocean and coastline.

Spencer hopes to “dive deeper” into research at Mote next year as a high school junior.


Mote Marine Laboratory has been a world leader in marine research since it was founded in 1955. Mote is an independent nonprofit organization and has seven centers for marine research, the public Mote Aquarium and an Education Division specializing in public programs for all ages. More information is available online about the Lab as well as the High School Internship at

Ring Around the Sun in Sarasota

Today, a bizarre-looking phenomenon showed up in the Sarasota sky. Frankly, I’ve never seen it before, so when I snagged a photo and shared it on Facebook, I added the remark:

I’m pretty sure if I were an Old Testament prophet I’d be freaked out about this…

Turns out… it’s not a “real” ring at all. The phenomenon is known as a “Halo” and has a very natural, scientific explanation. (A bit of a let-down, I know.)

What Causes the Ring Around the Sun

Halo Around the Sarasota Sun

My first thought was that this must be related to a cloud formation. A quick search online revealed that it is, in fact, caused by ice crystals suspended within cirrus clouds. Apparently, we’re seeing the most common form of halo: the 22-degree halo. This means that the light passing through the ice crystals (which are hexagonal in shape) is deviated by exactly 22°.

Since the light is being reflected by millions of tiny crystals, and the light reflection is always exactly 22°, you’ll see a perfect circle no matter what angle you look from. This is why all of the photos showing up on Facebook today from Sarasota people all show the same shape! (Otherwise, some of the photos taken from different angles would show an oval or oblong shape instead).

A word to the wise: as cool as this thing is… don’t look at it. I’m sure today doctors throughout Sarasota will be seeing people for headaches, floaters, retinal burns and other problems from staring up. (It’s hard to resist, I know.)

Instead… just point your camera up and take a look at the photos. Or just load up your Facebook feed to see all the interesting comments about it! From what I can tell, the ring around the sun is visible from quite a bit of Florida. We’re getting visits here today from all over Southwest Florida, from Tampa and as far away as Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. It’s hard to be certain of exactly how widely visible this halo is, but quite a few people are curious about it today!

What About Venus?

Some folks are asking about the 2012 transit of Venus. It’s a coincidence that Venus is passing in front of the sun. Actually, tomorrow is the best time to see Venus blocking 1/32 of the sun. But… here again, follow NASA’s recommendations and view it safely!

A big tip of the blog hat to: Planet Facts & NASA


Should You Try Acupuncture?

Melinda Leeson, DOM, Acupuncture & Homeopathic Physician

Over the last few months, I’ve had the privilege of becoming acquainted with Melinda Leeson, DOM. She’s an acupuncture and homeopathic physician who operates a clinic here in Sarasota called “Nature’s Own Wellness.”

Now let me first say that I haven’t yet tried acupuncture. Prior to meeting Dr. Leeson, I would’ve placed it in the category of “things that might be helpful that I might be willing to try.” Frankly, I would’ve never thought that I suffered from any condition that would’ve been helped by acupuncture.

As far as homeopathy goes, I would’ve said, “I’m definitely open to it.” I have a healthy skepticism about medications. In fact, I tend to think that as a general rule, we Americans are little too quick to reach for (or ask our doctors for) a bottle of pills. The idea of natural remedies that don’t involve a lot of bizarre pharmaceuticals is actually appealing to me. Thankfully, I’ve been very blessed with great health. Aside from some injuries that have required chiropractic treatment, I rarely darken the door of a doctor’s office… unless they are a client!

And that’s how I happened to meet Dr. Leeson. We were introduced by Sarasota florist and my good friend and client, Becki Creighton. Since Becki has raved and raved about her experiences with Dr. Leeson, I was delighted to be able to meet her.

One of the things that Dr. Leeson (who tends to call herself Melinda) helped me understand is that acupuncture doesn’t hurt. I guess a lot of people assume (as I did) that the needles would prick or sting a bit on the way in. Evidently that is not the case… most people don’t feel anything and are even surprised to find out a needle as already been inserted.

Another thing she helped me understand is that the needles are about energy flow. Traditional Chinese medicine looks at physical, emotional, mental and spiritual energy differently than we tend to think of it here. This is very intriguing to me, as is the idea that treating a specific symptom or condition really should be done from a holistic perspective. She explained that she spends a great deal of time with her patients… learning about their lives, how they spend their time, what they eat, what stresses they experience, and so on. This helps her arrive at a course of treatment that is more likely to get to the source of the problem(s) and not just alleviate a symptom.

Another interesting thing I learned is that the practice of Chinese herbal medicine goes beyond acupuncture to the use of herbs and teas that introduce natural substances which may target certain deficiencies and so forth. This is very interesting to me because I’m convinced that eating the same foods over and over again — does anyone do this but me? — is bound to cause us to come up short in certain areas… not to mention ending up with too much in some others!

Overall, her use of homeopathic remedies goes most deeply into re-balancing or correcting the driving forces within each person that initially set up the energetic patterns for disease. This is a major departure from what we typically experience in health care today. And… to me, it’s worth exploring.

Another thing I didn’t know is that traditional Chinese medicine — acupuncture, herbal remedies, etc. — is able to really help with a wide variety of ailments. Melinda helps her patients with everything from weight loss to chemical imbalances. She works on colds and flu, ADD/ADHD, symptoms of menopause, osteoporosis, allergies, chronic fatigue, headaches, joint pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis, insomnia, depression… the list truly goes on and on.

Whether or not you’ve ever considered or tried acupuncture, Sarasota has a true gem in Dr. Melinda Leeson. I’ve spent a number of hours getting to know her — both face-to-face and over the phone — and she is a highly conscientious, precious, compassionate person. She has demonstrated the highest integrity, which in and of itself gives me reason to highly recommend her. Here’s how to find her:

Nature’s Own Wellness (Website:
7029 South Tamiami Trail, Suite A, Sarasota, FL 34231
Appointments & Info: (941) 926-9082

Sarasota Coffee Shop Groupon

My favorite independent Sarasota coffee shop is currently featured as a Tampa Bay Area Groupon deal! Just wanted to give a quick heads-up to my Sarasota readers who are also coffee connoisseurs. Spend $6, and get $12 worth of stuff on your next visit. Here’s the Groupon deal. Get it now: it expires today!

While they also sell & service espresso machines (residential & commercial), their cafe on Bee Ridge has been a welcome addition since they opened last year. Great-tasting food, free wi-fi and lots of beverage options make The Beanz Man a fantastic choice. And, as we’ve mentioned before, they make the ultimate Almond cappuccino. Be sure & tell ’em I sent ya!

BarCamp Sarasota 2011

**Update** The BarCamp Sarasota Fall 2011 event takes place October 15-16 at GWIZ. Epiphany Marketing is making presentations there as well. We hope to see you!

I’m writing this from inside an Entrepreneurial Roundtable session being facilitated by locally-based technologist Stan Schultes. The ideas being generated within this “open source” group of people are absolutely stellar. There are folks in the room who have been there, done it, and are looking for an opportunity to share back and forth.

This is just one example of the benefits of having an event like BarCamp Sarasota. This year’s event is being held this weekend at GWIZ, which turns out to be a perfect venue because of their various small rooms that seem ideally suited for sessions like those you’ll find at a BarCamp event. The sessions are on a wide variety of topics — both technology-focused and otherwise. Skimming through upcoming session for today, here are some of the topics on the menu:

  • “Leadership and Community Building, Why Now More than Ever?” with Sara Hand
  • “The Zen of Building Sustainable Technology” with Lorrie Vervoordt
  • “Programming Humans” with  Tracy Ingram
  • “Facebook Marketing & SEO” with Thao Tran

At 11am, we’ll be presenting…

Making It All Pay: Growing Your Business with 21st Century Tools

Yes… technology is great! We love it… but without a comprehensive, written, measurable strategy in place, most every business will find themselves floundering in a sea of unfinished initiatives — nearly all of which have failed to produce any significant result from a business standpoint.

For example… how many businesses have websites, blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc. but can’t point to any new business that they have produced? Or (perhaps worse) know that some business has been produced, but the metrics aren’t in place to identify how much and from which initiatives.

So… we’ll be talking about the strategy piece of the equation… and lining up all the elements in a way that gets you the result you desire. For most businesses, this means new customers, bigger  market share and long-term profitability.

Hope you join us for our session… More reports from this year’s BarCamp event later!

Spring Clean Your Life

We were thrilled to be able to work on a “fresh” project for Christian Family Church Sarasota. They’re launching a brand new Saturday evening meeting time beginning March 26th, 2011 and wanted to get the word out in an innovative way.

They already had planned to do a postcard mailing, so we worked together with Lead Pastor Warren McGregor, who is also an entrepreneur and business owner, to create an integrated campaign that would provide people with the opportunity to get a “taste” of Christian Family Church. When the postcard arrives, the recipients are invited to visit a website created specifically for this campaign called Spring Clean Your Life.

Once there, the visitor has an opportunity to receive 3 downloads:

  • a free MP3 containing a 10-minute message from Entrepreneur & Lead Pastor, Warren McGregor, entitled “Fresh Start”
  • a voucher redeemable for a free meal for the entire family from CFC’s amazing International Bistro, and
  • a coupon good for 30% off any purchase from the CFC Cafe Bookstore, which offers a variety of books, CDs and resources for a successful life

In addition to the postcard, the website (along with the special offers) will also be promoted through the CFC Facebook page and Twitter account.

One final touch is that the Church’s sign, which sits on Clark Road (just east of Beneva Road) in Sarasota, is being updated with a fresh new look that ties in with the postcard, website and Spring Clean Your Life theme.

A Personal Note About Christian Family Church Sarasota

My family and I have been thrilled to be connected with Pastors Warren & Kathrine McGregor and the entire CFC Sarasota family since late last summer. This project has been a great way to help create some awareness for the community in Sarasota about the jewel we have here in CFC.

CFC features energetic music along with positive, inspiring & motivating messages in a family atmosphere. There are a variety of special-interest activities available for every age group, including some powerful high-impact items like global humanitarian outreach (I just returned from a highly productive trip to Haiti with a group from CFC and medical missions organization, Hearts Afire).

Whether or not you receive a postcard, I encourage you to check out CFC and visit a weekend meeting… either on Saturdays at 7pm or Sundays at 10:30am (starting the weekend of the 26th & 27th). You can learn more at the Christian Family Church Sarasota website.


Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Therapy in Sarasota

Update (December 17, 2010), you can now hear Carl tell the story for yourself in this PRP Sarasota video.

I recently spoke to a newly-retired Sarasota resident who had found himself facing knee surgery.

After enduring numerous treatments — starting with cortisone shots and progressing from there — he was experiencing additional symptoms in his knee. And his “good” knee was beginning the same decline. The result? He walked with a limp, couldn’t climb stairs, and was slowing down significantly.

Remarkably, after hearing all about his knee problems, this guy did a happy dance in front of me. No really… he danced. And quite vigorously, too!

This guy was dancing for 2 reasons:

  • He had saved a bunch of money avoiding surgery, and…
  • He had avoided surgery.

Did I mention he didn’t need surgery anymore?

Oh… and the other reason he was dancing: he had no pain in his knees!

Medically speaking, this gentleman had experienced regenerative healing. When you have new tissue growth and repair, there’s no need to go under the knife!

How did it happen?

3 words: Platelet Rich Plasma. Or in 3 letters: PRP.

Dr. Kassicieh with some Platelet Rich Plasma equipment in his Sarasota office.

How Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Works

It turns out our bodies have amazing healing abilities. (Who knew?) But sometimes situations deteriorate in places where it’s hard to get the healing ability of the human body to function. So… in a simple outpatient procedure that literally takes minutes to complete, Dr. Dan Kassicieh draws blood from the patient, works a little magic (not the medical term), and re-injects the resulting soup right at the point where your body needs some healing.

This treatment happens on a completely outpatient basis in Dr. Kassicieh’s office on Cattlemen Road. And although it’s relatively pain-free (the gentleman I spoke to didn’t feel any pain during the procedure at all) and is quick, perhaps the best benefit of all is that you get to skip the recovery time associated with surgery!

The “magic” I referred to earlier involves spinning the blood drawn from the patient in order to separate the platelets from other components. The platelets are then mixed with some other stuff (bioactive proteins, I’m told, among other things) and the super-concentrated healing liquid gets expertly injected at just the right point.

From there, the platelets and proteins act as a catalyst — triggering an amazing healing response from the patient’s own body. Actual new tissue is created as a result.

The procedure isn’t right for every situation, but for most people suffering from joint pain, sports-related and other injuries, and a variety of other painful conditions, PRP is a fantastic way to avoid surgery and narcotics.

If you’re interested in learning more, you can visit Dr. Kassicieh’s PRP Sarasota website, check out this Platelet Rich Plasma Sarasota video on YouTube… or call Sarasota Neurology at (941) 955-5858.