Why Even Conservatives Want to Save the Celery Fields

Why Even Conservatives Want to Save the Celery Fields in Sarasota

The past seven or eight months have been quite a learning experience for me.

We hadn’t made it far into 2017 when I first heard of the plan to construct what amounts to a dump at the Celery Fields in Sarasota.

Now I am not what you would call an “activist.” Prior to 2017, you could count one hand the number of times you’d have spotted me holding a sign in a crowd. Some people enjoy it and would find a reason to do it every week if they could. I just don’t happen to be one of them.

Nor am I what you would call an “environmentalist.” This issue has become one of the growing number of issues for which I consider both sides of the argument to be less than honest and certainly not aboveboard.

Nor am I someone who believes in giving government even more control over our private lives. I regard the increasing incursion of the State into our individual liberties as a dangerous menace—one that was foreseen by the Founders and Framers, whose counsel on the issue we ignore to our own peril.

In other words, I’m not what you would call a “liberal,” at least not according to any modern definition of the word.

And yet, in 2017, I’ve signed petitions, gone to rallies, attended public hearings, and spoken out in a number of ways to ask Sarasota County to deny petitions to build on Celery Fields lands.

Knowing this, many casual observers might assume that they could accurately guess my political leanings.

And yet, over the last number of months, I’ve worked alongside card-carrying members of both of the major political parties, and many others who are harder to classify, politically speaking. Lifelong Republicans, tree-hugging environmentalist Democrats, frustrated independents, and members of other parties have aligned themselves to oppose these projects, most notably the one proposed by local developer turned public official, James Gabbert.

And this is how I have learned so much this year. Never before have I seen so many people willing to lay aside their cherished ideologies and work together with people who, in other circumstances, they’d probably vehemently oppose.

There’s an old saying about nothing being stronger than the heart of a volunteer, and that is what I’ve observed—and been humbled by—throughout this process.

I’ve watched people give up hundreds of hours of their time, sacrifice business opportunities, and risk embarrassment (or worse) to protect the Celery Fields. Business owners, former journalists, retirees, birders and wildlife enthusiasts of all ages, and—yes—people whose interest in activism has risen to levels deserving of the word, “professional,” have linked up with one another in a shocking display of heart.

Why?

It can only be because they care.

They care about beauty. They care about nature. They care about what sort of society we are creating. They care about what we do with Publicly-owned land. They care about our water supply and the health of estuaries and aquatic wildlife. They care about the birds and the beautiful habitat that’s been created over the last twenty-plus years, by accident or not. They care about preserving the peaceful serenity of the Palmer corridor, which only looks “industrial” on maps created during the Reagan Administration. They care about the two thousand homes—soon to exceed 2,600 with new developments going in—and the neighborhoods that have grown up around them. They care about Tatum Ridge Elementary School and the 700 students, not to mention the hardworking faculty and staff, just down the street.

And it’s been my honor to work alongside such caring people. Maybe in other circumstances and on other questions, the things we care about would find us disagreeing.

But after months of working alongside people of this quality, I must say I’m more inclined than ever to really listen and to try to understand where they’re coming from and to see if perhaps there aren’t better ways to solve our problems than the bitter public thrashings that seem to be the order of the day.

In other words, I care too—about the Celery Fields, sure—but more importantly, about the people I’ve come to know through this unique experience.

Tomorrow, we’ll hear from the County Commissioners. That means today we’re all busy making our final preparations. Regardless of the outcome, I want all of you to know how much I have grown to deeply respect and appreciate you. Thank you for the honor of working with you.

Congratulations to Jo Hagan, CPA

A huge congratulations to our longtime accountant, CPA, and all-around business adviser, Jo Hagan, on the rebranding of her accounting practice from Hagan CPA, Inc to Barefoot Accounting, PA.

In the process of re-branding, Jo recently launched an all new Barefoot Accounting website.

Jo and I met at a networking event in 2001, not long after 9/11. I had just gone full-time in my business, and she had decided she wanted to sacrifice some of the security and stability of a corporate job in favor of working from home and being there for her two young daughters.

One of the benefits of working from home, of course, is that you can go barefoot if you’d like! Today, Jo’s daughters are off in college, and Jo is taking advantage of the opportunity to help others like her who might be Moms or would otherwise prefer to work from home.

Jo’s new brand represents a fantastic new direction as she helps other CPAs and bookkeepers develop a stable livelihood while simultaneously refocusing her own efforts on providing top-shelf business advisory services that go way beyond filing taxes and producing reports. We couldn’t be happier for Jo!

Join me at WordCamp Miami 2017

Now that it’s been officially announced, I’m excited to invite you to join me for a discussion about “Getting Real Business Results from Your Content Marketing Efforts” at WordCamp Miami!

The event runs March 24-26 (Friday through Sunday) at Florida International University in Miami. The Miami gathering is one of the longest-running and most well-respected events in the WordCamp series, and it’s an honor to be invited to participate.

Last year, the weekend was outstanding, and my lovely wife, Jill, and I are truly looking forward to another spectacular time in South Florida!

WordCamp Miami 2016: Day Two

WordCamp Miami 2016 - Day Two

My wonderful, gorgeous wife, Jill, and I arrived on campus at Florida International University for day 2 of WordCamp Miami 2016… just in time to enjoy another round of bagels & coffee from Einstein Brothers Bagels.

After the opening remarks, we got our dose of Cain & Obenland in the Morning, which was a riot.

A highlight of the “Morning Show” was when they brought in Mark Jaquith for an interview.

Their final segment on WordPress news was fun. Some of the tidbits they shared about what’s happening with WordPress Core were exciting, including the fact that we’ll soon be saying goodbye to the “Bleak Screen of Sadness™”

Jill and I stayed together for the first session of the morning, and we caught “Bootstrapping Your WordPress Business – Going from 0 to 10 Employees” with Scott Mann, who runs Highforge, an agency in Central Florida. Scott started with a compelling story about smoke jumper Wagner “Wag” Dodge and a famous firefighting incident at Mann Gulch which resulted in an on-the-spot innovation that continues to be used by firefighters today.

The point: when you’re bootstrapping your business, you’ll probably need to keep replacing your straps, because they’re going to get burned off!

Scott’s session ran the gamut from tools you can use as you bootstrap to finding and hiring the right talent and even when and how to raise your rates. Very practical. If you own a business and you’re bootstrapping and trying to grow, check out his slides or catch the replay if you can.

Next, Jill headed off to the “All Users” track, and I stuck around for “Product Marketing Tips for Commercial Plugins” with Chris Lema.  While he was specifically focused on developers who are selling premium WordPress plugins, his actual talk contained a ton of useful tactics for any business.

 

The Afternoon

The Business track that the organizers put together for today has turned out to be utterly fantastic.

A very pleasant surprise was the panel discussion which featured Brett Cohen, co-founder of emagine, Karim Marucchi, CEO of Crowd Favorite Andrew Norcross, founder of Reaktiv Studios, and Kimberly Lipari, COO, Valet.  The listed topic was, “How to Scale Your Business,” and the discussion was incredibly real and authentic. Most of all, it was really valuable.

 

WordCamp Miami 2016: Day One

WordCamp Miami 2016 - Day One

My amazing wife & business partner, @GracefulJill, and I arrived on campus at FIU today just in time to get a great parking spot and jump in the registration line.

Right away, the #WCMIA team showed that they had done a great job getting things organized—the registration line ran smoothly, and we got some great event swag.

After visiting some of the sponsors’ tables, we staked out a couple of seats for the opening remarks session

Welcome to WordCamp Miami 2016 - Opening Remarks

We planned to divide & conquer, but ended up both catching the session “How to Keep a Client Happy” by Christina Siegler on the Content & Design track.

After that session, I snuck over to the Development track to hear a couple of more technical sessions, and Jill stayed for more Content & Design goodness. She spoke very highly of the session with Michelle Schulp on “Becoming The Client Your Developer Loves”—so much so that I’m planning to catch the recording.

In “Writing Multilingual Plugins and Themes,” John Bloch didn’t shy away from tech issues, and he dug right into code samples while explaining the concepts around internationalization (“I18N” for short).

Then I caught Chris Wiegman, whom I’ve gotten somewhat acquainted with since he relocated to paradise Sarasota a little over a year ago. He’s known as an expert in WordPress security, and his “Application Security For WordPress Developers” was entertaining, informative, and thorough… not to mention somewhat over my head in spots.

On my way to the Development track, I bumped into Pam Blizzard, one of the organizers of the WordPress community in Sarasota.

Pam Blizzard, a valuable member of the Sarasota WordPress community
Pam Blizzard, a valuable member of the Sarasota WordPress community

I’ll try to come back and fill in more about our experience as time permits!

The Afternoon

There was an authentic, vulnerable talk on getting the most out of the WordPress community from Marc Gratch. He shared some very personal experiences (that I’m sure many of us can identify with) about working alone & working remotely, and how the amazing WordPress community can be a great support system.

His “give more than you get” approach was fantastic, and true to form, he gave a great of resources he’s built over time:

Resources Shared by Marc Gratch at WordCamp Miami 2016

Then a fast-paced session on building a 6-figure email list with Syed Balkhi, creator of Opt-In Monster, WPBeginner, and many other sites & tools.

Nile Flores did a thorough, informative session on Yoast SEO, but managed to cover quite a bit of “SEO basics” ground in the process. This session should be mandatory for site owners who are new to how Google’s search results work and need a nice overview.

Then I caught up with Jill and we got some great lessons from Dr. Anthony Miyazaki about what is an acceptable number of times to dip your chip into the guacamole. He showed how you have to plan ahead so that you have enough of your chip left to really maximize your dip.

Florida’s Economic Recovery Ranked #6 In Nation

Business Insider ranked the 50 states based upon various—arguably arbitrary—factors and placed Florida in the number 6 position.

Notably, the report cited an 8.9% increase in statewide housing prices (measured from Q1 2013 to Q1 2014), a 3.1% bump in payroll jobs (June 2014 vs. June 2013) and a higher-than average growth in the state’s working-age population.

Ahead of Florida in Business Insider’s rankings: Colorado, California, Texas, Arizona, and Utah.

The team responsible for the report, which was published August 4, 2014, posted separately about their methodologies.

Fixing the Money Thing Goes Daily!

Gary and Drenda Keesee
Gary and Drenda Keesee

Congratulations to Gary Keesee and the team from Faith Life Now as their popular Fixing the Money Thing television program moves to a daily broadcast schedule this week!

Fixing the Money Thing has introduced thousands upon thousands of people to Biblical financial and business principles over the last several seasons, and remains a rock-solid source of great teaching. The show, hosted by Gary and his wonderful wife, Drenda, airs on the Daystar television network Monday through Thursday at 5:30pm Eastern (4:30pm Central).

On Fridays, that time slot will be filled by the powerful Drenda show, which has aired for just over a year on the ABC Family Network. Drenda is focused on issues facing today’s women, and has steadily grown in popularity thanks to a wide variety of great content and a burgeoning online community facilitated by the show’s website and Facebook page.

We were privileged to have Gary Keesee as part of the powerful lineup of speakers at our recent Nourish The Dream event in Tampa, Florida and look forward to having him back with us for future events.

We’re excited for all the new developments for Gary and Drenda Keesee, and wish them and their entire team a very impactful run of new television programming!

 

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

Dean Burnside, Owner of Macy's Pest Control 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!

Ruthlessly Guarding the Valuables: Time and Attention

Ruthlessly Guarding the Valuables
Ruthlessly Guarding the Valuables

Recently, I’ve become starkly aware of how demanding our culture has become. One day last week, within the span of a just a few short minutes, I was randomly assaulted by literally dozens of phone calls and text messages.

I will certainly admit that that exact scenario is very uncommon. But since I was desperately trying to get something accomplished at the time, and since some of those texts and phone calls were from people who had made repeated attempts at reaching me already, I became particularly frustrated. (Let’s just say it’s a good thing there weren’t any sledgehammers, ponds or toilets close by… because my phone might not have survived.)

This isn’t to mention the daily onslaught of emails, Facebook messages, Twitter DMs, instant messages and face-to-face interruptions that bombard so many of us today.

In my business, large uninterrupted blocks of time are required to produce the kind of output it takes for our work to get done. I’m increasingly cognizant of the fact that this doesn’t mix well with a culture that expects a response within a matter of seconds, minutes or hours from any given interaction. It’s forcing me to recognize that two of my most valuable assets—time and attention—require bigger and better defense systems today.

Coincidentally, just as these thoughts were taking shape in my brain, I bumped into two very insightful posts today: one on “Pest Control” from Seth Godin, and the other on our “Culture of Distraction” from Matt Mullenweg. These are two of my favorite authors these days, and these posts don’t disappoint.

Matt Mullenweg actually shared a poignant 15-minute video clip featuring a talk from Joe Kraus on this topic. I’m including it here for you to enjoy.

SOPA and Your Right to Free Speech

Note: This post was originally published on the Nourish The Dream blog.

SOPA: Are You Prepared To Be Silenced?
SOPA: Are You Prepared To Be Silenced?

Here at Nourish The Dream, we are incredibly passionate about the success of small businesses and entrepreneurs. We work tirelessly to produce events and resources that will help “nourish the dream” of business ownership and success in the lives of people. And that’s why we feel it’s important to bring SOPA (and its evil twin: PIPA) to your attention.

Depending upon when you read this, the links above may not be working. That’s because Wikipedia is “going dark” for the very first time (at least for its English version) in its history in order to protest this outrageous piece of legislation.

Why Sound the Alarm?

On the surface, the idea behind these bills is honorable and even noble: to stop the illegal downloading & sharing of content protected by copyright. The biggest beneficiaries of this action are relatively obvious: record labels, movie studios and others who create content which is ordinarily sold but which is being pirated (something which, I would like to note, is already illegal).

The egregious nature of the legislation comes not from its ostensible purpose but from its far-reaching, dangerous implications. Specifically, as the legislation is currently drafted, it gives incredible powers of internet censorship to the US courts. Further, it places ridiculous demands upon search engines to no longer provide links to sites which are accused of violating copyrights.

Picture a world where Google is required to police its search results at any given moment for links to websites which have not been proven to be guilty of violating copyrights. Picture a world where your small business website can be shut down at will by anyone willing to throw out a complaint.

In short: the legislation as drafted violates the free speech rights of US citizens via censorship without due process of law.

What About Piracy?

First let me say that we make our living creating content and enjoying the wonderful protection of copyright law. Without copyrights, it would be very difficult for our parent organization to recognize revenue from the training products it creates. Similarly, here at Nourish The Dream, we value very highly the ability for us to create and distribute CDs, MP3s and (soon) DVDs of materials to empower, train & equip the business owners and entrepreneurs we exist to serve… and to, in turn, achieve revenue from those sales to fuel our mission and to give us the ability to create new & better products as we go.

It is therefore of no small significance to us that there be appropriate tools in the hands of legislators and law enforcement agencies to go after piracy and shut it down where possible. We fully understand that no retailer would leave their shop doors unlocked at night with no one watching. There are evil people in the world, and the “honor system” doesn’t always pan out well in the end. Hence the need for proper protections for those who create items of value.

All of that said, SOPA & PIPA do not place appropriate powers in the hands of the right parties to solve the issues they purport to address. Rather, they place undue power in the hands of a few while effectively crippling the business model of many valuable companies who contribute to an open, free (as in speech) internet.

Looking for something to do about it? Visit AmericanCensorship.org or sign this petition on WhiteHouse.gov.