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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

"Shoes to Use" in Palm Coast and Flagler County

“Shoes to Use” is a shoe recycling campaign launched by Kopec Insurance in Palm Coast and Flagler County in 2009.  The program provides a way to help those less fortunate.

Brian Kopec, owner of Kopec Insurance says:

We collect, deliver and donate shoes that are in good condition to those who need them.  Our efforts have been very successful providing shoes to children and adults that otherwise may be wearing shoes that don’t fit, or even none at all, as a result of their particular situation.  I was inspired by a visit to a homeless shelter. People of all ages were there looking for assistance. Parents were wearing shoes that had seen better days and children wore shoes that simply didn’t fit."

Brian Kopec
Brian Kopec and his colleagues at Kopec Insurance found that many people simply throw their shoes away when they got out of style or their kids out grow them after they have only worn them a few times. Sometimes shoes find their way to a local Goodwill where they are resold. Kopec Insurance wanted to make them available to others at no cost.

Shoes to Use” gives everyone a chance to feel a little better: 

Shoes get us where we are going in life and if your shoes don’t feel good then you don’t feel good. People need to feel good.

Kopec Insurance collects sneakers, tennis shoes and other comfortable shoes (even the occasional pair of sandals or dress shoes) that are in great condition. Take a look around. You might just have an extra pair sitting in our closet that someone else might benefit from.

Kopec Insurance is located at 393 Palm Coast Parkway, SW, Suite 4 in West Pointe Plaza (west end of Palm Coast Parkway in the center island). For more information please contact Brian Kopec at 446-5307.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Teen Guide To Looking For Employment

School is coming to a close in the next few weeks and many teens may be thinking about applying for work.  For some it may be a "first job".  For some it may be about getting money together things like a car or college.  So forth and so on.  It can be tough, and even discouraging at times.  We know, and we've all been there.  Over the last 17 years interviewing and hiring people of all ages there are some common things that come up with younger people that often make their job search and landing a job more difficult.  Here's some tips to avoid these things:

  1. Presentation when applying- When you are applying for a job you are "selling" yourself to a hiring manager.  The obvious and not so obvious can say a lot about an applicant.  
    1. Dress presentable (i.e. no shorts and t-shirts) even when just picking up an application.  
    2. Introduce yourself by name when asking for an application or if the business is hiring.  Simply saying, "Can I have an application." doesn't make you stand out.  
    3. Write clearly on an application if the company uses a paper application system and do not use a pencil.  If a hiring manager is going through a stack of applications and can't read the information, it will get passed over.
    4. Mom and Dad, not a good time to be present.  We all know this is a "special" time in your child's life, but you may be creating a distraction and/or sending off the "wrong signals".  The company is hiring your son or daughter and not you.  Overbearing parents engaging too much becomes a distraction to focus on the applicant themselves.  
    5. When applying, it's about getting an interview.  You most likely will not be hired without being interviewed.  So the goal is to get interviews when applying for jobs.  
  2. Be flexible and realistic - Applications will ask for "available time to work".  This is not about "creating your own schedule" nor does it mean if you put down that you are available on weekends that you will have to work every weekend all weekend.  This portion gives the hiring manager a "picture" of whether this person can fit into their scheduling needs.  Being available 3 nights a week and no weekends, is probably not going to get you an interview.  Also realize you may have to work some holidays when others are off.  We'll get into this more in the "Interview" portion.
  3. Interview time - They called and scheduled a time for an interview with you.  This is a time for the hiring manager to get to know you better.  Most businesses will not make the final decision during this meeting so do not anticipate getting hired during this meeting.  It's about helping them get to know you better.  
    1. Again, dress presentable.  
    2. Show up on time.  5 to 10 minutes before is a good rule of thumb.  
    3. Smile!
    4. Be honest here
    5. The discussion can take a couple of different forms.  
      1. General questions verifying or clarifying what you put on the application.  You may have put down that you are not available on Saturdays.  You will probably be asked "Why not?"  Things like "Those are the days I study" are not good answers.  So you study 12 hours every Saturday?  I don't think so.  Likewise, if you put down the reason for leaving your last employer was because of "lack of hours" be prepared to clarify this.  Zero is never better than some, and from my experience this is rarely ever the true reason for leaving.  What often gets brought up is a conflict with the supervisor.  
      2. Situational/behavioral.  These are questions asking you about how you have handled or responded to certain situations.  For teens you can use experiences in school or side jobs like baby sitting.  One of my best hires was a teenage girl who had only done babysitting.  That's a tough job, and she was put in some difficult situations that she told me about and I thought responded to perfectly to those situations.  Her parents were surprised we made the decision to hire because of lack of experience, and I explained why we did.  I personally like to use the "Tell me about a time when . . . " type of questions here.  I'm not a fan of "What would you do if . . . "  These are hypothetical and the person can make anything up which tells me nothing.  These "Tell me about a time when . . . ." questions provide a huge amount of information about a person and what you can expect from them.  For example, the girl I mentioned had a situation where the Mother was running late and needed her to stay longer.  She had studying to do.  She stayed obviously and simply pushed off some social things she wanted to do later to get her studying in.  What I heard . . . flexibility, willing to sacrifice, and can think quickly when the unexpected comes up.  All great qualities.
      3. Be careful what you say.  An interviewer knows their business and is thinking in terms of how you might fit in (or not) by your responses.  For example, a conflict with a previous supervisor is ok and the interviewer is looking to hear how you handled that.  We have all had to work for difficult people but what you perceived as "difficult" may not be in our minds.  Things like, "I had a family thing come up at the last minute and the manager wouldn't let me off even though I didn't request off."  is not about the supervisor being "difficult".  What we hear is that you are inflexible and expect the business to revolve around you.  Likewise, "summer jobs" don't exist in a lot of places today.  In retail, hiring someone is not about getting someone for just a few months.  So if you are looking at not being able to work come the end of summer it's important to be up front and honest about that. 
  4. Following up.  The interview may be left kind of "open ended" due to various reasons, and this is normal.  It's ok to call or stop by in a few days to follow up.  Calling multiple ties each day may not be the best strategy.  Again, it's important to be polite ad courteous.  When stopping in make sure to give your name and the reason you are stopping in.  Managers often have several things going on at one time and may not be able to come over.  So leaving a message that you stopped in and were just following up can be just as effective.  
  5. Spread things out and use this as a learning opportunity.  You are going to need to fill out many applications at many different places and possibly interview with several different people and businesses prior to getting a job.  I've interviewed at a lot of places and have had many jobs I did not get.  Every situation has been an opportunity to learn and understand what I might have been able to do better.  Sometimes I may not have done anything "wrong", it may just be that it didn't work out or someone else got the job.  Yes, it's a downer but I always got the opportunity to learn something.  Maybe the person asked questions I wasn't prepared for or asked them in an interesting/different way which gave me an opportunity to reflect on that and tweak my preparations for the next interview.  
Best of luck to all.  I hope this helps, and what are your thoughts?

Friday, April 15, 2011

SBDC Seeks Manager for their new office located in Palm Coast, Flagler County

Reporting to the Director of the Small Business Development Center based in Daytona State College in Daytona Beach, candidates are sought to fill an Area Manager position serving the small business community in Palm Coast and Flagler County.

Ned Harper, director, SBDC at Daytona State College says:
Ideally, we’re looking for someone who is experienced in owning and operating a small to medium sized business. The successful candidate should be able to demonstrate that they can advise businesses on business planning and development.

The new Flagler/Palm Coast Area Manager will be responsible for the development and production of programs for the small business community. The SBDC programs provide small business owners with up-to-date and relevant information concerning the well-being of their businesses. They will also be responsible for communicating and attaining program goals and objectives.

Candidates should have Master’s Degree in an appropriate area of specialization and two years of appropriate experience, or a Bachelor’s Degree in an appropriate area of specialization and four years of appropriate experience; as well as excellent verbal and written communication skills.  Periodic evening and weekend work may be required, as well as moderate travelling.

The Area Manager for the Palm Coast Small Business Development Center will be based at the City of Palm Coast offices currently located on Cypress Pointe Parkway.

To apply, submit a resume with a cover letter to Ned Harper via email to by April 22, 2011.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Flagler County Chamber of Commerce hires Business Development Manager

Catherine Groom has joined the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce as Business Development Manager.  In this new job role, Catherine will develop and execute marketing strategies to maximize growth opportunities for the Chamber and its members in the Flagler County Business community.

Catherine will work with Advertising & Enrollment Director Heather Edwards to assure members receive optimal exposure through one-on-one member office visits, business development training and an innovative advertising approach.  

Rebecca DeLorenzo, Executive Vice President of the Chamber says:
Catherine’s experience as a chamber member, her business development background and experience training and motivating sales personnel make her an excellent fit for this position. She will be an asset to our organization.” 

Catherine Groom, previously worked in the real estate industry, and lived in Flagler County for more than 16 years.   Outside of the office, Catherine actively volunteers with local women’s and cold weather shelters. She also enjoys spending time outdoors with her two children and her miniature dachshund. 

For more information, or to contact Catherine Groom, call 386.437.0106.

Have you dealt with the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce in the past?  Would you like to rate and review your experience?  You can do so here.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Palm Coast-based NEFJA Celebrates Jazz Appreciation Month

In honor of the Jazz Appreciation Month, North East Florida Jazz Association (NEFJA) is bringing in two of New York’s hottest contemporary jazz stars to perform in a special concert on Sunday, April 17th at the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach. Saxophonist Vincent Herring and trumpet player Vincent Pelt are considered to be among the best jazz musicians in the US today.

Herring, 46, has played saxophone since he was 11 years old. He first toured the U.S. and Europe with Lionel Hampton’s Big Band in the early 80’s. He went on to spend nine years working with Nat Adderly, a native Floridian and internationally acclaimed jazz trumpet player, and has also performed with such jazz notables as Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, Nancy Wilson, Horace Silver, and Wynton Marsalis. A consummate performer, Herring has performed in nearly every major jazz festival in the world. He has recorded 15 CD’s as a leader and has performed as a sideman on more than 200 others.

He is a strong advocate of jazz education and is currently on staff at William Paterson University in New Jersey and has conducted master classes and jazz workshops at Julliard, Duke and Cornell Universities.

Pelt, 34, graduated from the renowned Berklee College of Music in 1988 and has been a key player on the New York jazz scene since then. He has performed with a host of high profile jazz performers including Roy Hargrove, Jimmy Heath, Ravi Coltraine, Cassandra Wilson, Greg Osby and the Mingus Big Band. For five consecutive years Pelt has been voted Rising Star on the Trumpet by Downbeat Magazine and the Jazz Journalist Association. He released his first CD in 2002 and has recorded several other albums. Pelt is currently with High Note Records. His latest CD, “The Talented Mr. Pelt” was released in 2011.

Muriel McCoy, NEFJA President and co-founder says:
We are very pleased to be able to present these two fine young musicians in recognition of Jazz Appreciation month and as part of NEFJA’s concert series.  Our mission is to perpetuate jazz, America’s only indigenous art form and these two outstanding musicians are among those who are taking jazz forward into the 21st century. It promises to be an amazing afternoon of music.

Also in recognition of Jazz Appreciation Month and as a special treat for museum guests and concertgoers, NEFJA has arranged for the Daytona State College Jazz Band to perform prior to the main event.

NEFJA is committed to encouraging young people to pursue jazz studies,” said McCoy. “In addition to providing scholarships to talented young people enrolled in jazz study programs in Florida colleges and universities, we’re excited to be able to provide a local venue for them to showcase their talents.

The Daytona State College Jazz Band will be performing from 1:50 - 2:20 p.m. in the Museum’s Root Hall. The Herring-Pelt concert will begin at 2:30p.m. in the Museum’s auditorium. The Museum of Arts and Sciences is located at 352 S. Nova Road, Daytona Beach.

Tickets for the concert are $25 for NEFJA members, $30 for non-members, and $15 for students with valid ID. They can be purchased in advance by mail (P.O. Box 352552, Palm Coast, FL 32135), or at Aimee’s Hallmark in Palm Coast, on the NEFJA website at or by calling Muriel McCoy at 386-445-1329.

NEFJA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the perpetuation, performance, preservation, and promotion of jazz. In addition to bringing nationally and internationally known jazz performers to the local area, the group awards scholarships to talented young students enrolled in a Jazz studies program at a Florida college or university.

This is a guest post submitted by Barbara Salter.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Top 6 Ways Young Tech Companies Are Changing The Way We Do Business

Things are changing around us everyday.  Sometimes it seems as though it is at breakneck speed and tough to keep up.  Things we dreamed of as kids watching shows like Start Trek, Buck Rogers, the Jetsons, etc. seem as though they are reality today.  People starting cars from their phones.  Taking a picture and sharing and sharing it with friends and family thousands of miles away within seconds.  So forth an so on.  A lot of these innovations and progress are coming from young companies and startups that are fearless and have vision that is truly inspiring.  Let's a take a look at 5 ways these innovators are changing the world and business:

  1. Everyone is the R and D Department - Open source mainly used in the tech world is a term in which everyone has access to the end-user code.  The Android operating system is a great example here.  Typically in the tech world the software a company produces and the coding have been it's 'secret sauce'. Microsoft, Apple, etc. are all closed.  You have a smaller group of select people with access to develop further products.  In the open source world, anyone can develop.  In this environment you get products coming faster and sometimes better.  The Android OS showing up on phones and mobile devices (including e-readers) all over has allowed many companies to use the code to develop new products and customize the system so it is unique to their product.  The Nook Color, for example, is an Android OS built ereader.  But the interface looks different than other Android devices.  The product is easily updated, the company gets a larger pool of people to draw from in terms of developers, so forth and so on.  Companies like Google and Mozilla have been huge advocates for open source and have benefited a great deal from it while providing users with great products.  Some companies have taken this to another level soliciting ideas for designs directly from the public.  Car designs, fashions, so forth and so on.
  2. The ad game - Since things like radios and TV's came out the ad game hasn't changed very much.  Users were forced to listen or watch an ad about a product or service.  It was this 'sign' in front of as many viewers as possible approach.  The problems with that approach are over time, human conditioning learns to "tune it out" and we become numb to it.  Likewise, companies could never really know the effectiveness of the ad.  Did it in fact impact their business?  Advertising on the web first started with the same approach, but then Google changed the game dramatically with pay-per-click and relevancy.  The Google method was small ads which were relevant to the content on the site (therefore relevant to the visitor) and the advertiser paid when visitor clicked the ad.  The site owner benefits, Google benefits, and the advertiser benefits by seeing real data to make decisions.  Just a few years later, that concept is being expanded upon with great benefits to everyone.  Ads in mobile devices which allows developers an income to continue to develop great new applications, ads that are more informative, so forth and so on.  Likewise, companies like Groupon have taken the coupon ad idea to a whole new level.  Who'd have ever thought people would pay to save?  Well, they did and with huge success.  And nobody gets the deal until enough people sign up.  Genius!  The coupon is changed forever!
  3. Customer relations is about engagement - The age-old saying in the customer service world is that if people are upset with your company, they will tell 11 people.  Some companies found out the hard way that the number is actually far higher as things like Facebook and Twitter took hold.  Some companies even tried suing Facebook users with cease and desist orders who spoke negatively about their company.  As you can guess, that didn't go so well.  Companies are finding that the best method of customer relations is to insert yourself into the conversation.  As Mark Zuckerberg found, people are inherently advertising for companies anyway through the things we share (i.e. product likes, experiences, so forth and so on).  Therefore, companies that are truly engaging in the conversations are advertising while executing and improving their customer relations at the same time.  Typically two things handled by two entirely separate departments.
  4. The customer's voice is much louder - The whole legal battle that went on with Napster I've always viewed this as the biggest consumer outcry against an industry in my lifetime.  People were "screaming" at the music industry to let them get the product they way they wanted to get it.  The good majority of people didn't want the product for free.  They were willing to pay for it, but the industry wouldn't offer it that way.  They invested millions in trying to stop digitized music to the extent of suing their own customers. In the end who won?  The customer and . . . Apple.  The music industry and music sellers never took the time to develop how to deliver digital music themselves and thus have been forced to turn that over to other companies.  Interestingly enough, the book sellers seemingly learned from this.  Booksellers saw the trend, heard the customer, and developed ways to deliver digital books to customers themselves today.  The movie industry on the other hand is still going the music industry route and trying to block digital and streaming movies at all costs.  Go figure.
  5. Competitors are partners - I love this one and know this idea drives long-term managers crazy.  Traditionally you share nothing with your competition because they might steal your idea.  When the iPhone and iPod Touch came out and opened the doorway for apps, the floodgates opened up in terms of possibilities and realities.  Unlike the development of large scale software packages that were limited in terms of uses and getting distributed to the masses, apps can be developed at much lower costs with a huge distribution system to users.  Not only do the users gain powerful ways to do things, Apple and the developers both benefit as more of a "partnership" style relationship.  Other models even have startup groups working in shared space sometimes sharing ideas.  Old school business managers cringe over this, because traditionally we have always kept our ideas secret for competitive reasons.  Granted you don't share out everything, but these types of environments can be very rewarding for those starting out and overcoming small hurdles at times.  
  6. For the first time, we can reduce costs AND improve services.  We all know the "cutting" things in workplaces.  Every time we hear it . . . stress rolls in.  Why?  Because we know either we're going or our jobs are going to get all that much more difficult.  Small businesses today can automate and streamline a great deal of their administrative functions to dramatically reduce costs while increasing levels of service at the same time.  A simple example is almost eliminating the need for faxing and/or mailing by using email and attachments.  The delivery is quicker and cleaner, and far less expensive.  Tablets and other mobile devices allow companies to go virtually paperless and can even reduce billing through mobile pay services.  Easier for the customer, quicker payment, and reduced billing costs.  
It's an exciting time right now in the business world.  Tech in business should always be viewed as tools and as an investment.  The tech tools available today are great investments that are allowing businesses to operate and provide services like never before.  They may seem contrary to what we are comfortable with, but I guarantee that if you truly open your mind a bit and look at the options before you . . . all those things you wish you could do before, you can do today.  Well, except for beam yourself to work which I am still waiting for that app.  

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Want To Go Paperless For Contracts? Unleash The Power Of An iPad

  If you are like me, you probably hate stacks of papers and files.  They are a pain to manage, costly, and extremely inefficient.  Laptops that have the ability to sign on screen (formerly called tablet PC's) are a great solution for the business professional that has to capture signatures on forms, but they can be costly and cumbersome.  The iPad coupled with online document storage, makes going paperless today within reach of many.  So how do you set this up?

First you need just a few things:
  1. An iPad obviously (Android tablets will work too, but the selection of PDF annotator apps is minimal)
  2. Online document storage service.  DropBox is great way to go and is very affordable. 
  3. PDF annotator app such as SignMyPad (ties in nicely with DropBox) or Annotate PDF
  4. A stylus for capactive touch screens (Griffin works well).
The process is easy:
  1. Create a folder for your document in your online file service or on your computer.  A
  2. Add the PDF form to the online folder or email the form to yourself
  3. Download the file to your iPad from your online document storage service or email
  4. Open your PDF annotator app 
  5. Open your PDF form in the app
  6. Sign with your stylus and write in any other information you need to
  7. Save the file as a PDF, email it to yourself, or save it directly back to your online document storage system.
Now you have a signed form and no need to print.  Simply attach the form to an email if needing to send to another party.  It's that simple.

Is it worth the money?  When it comes to business and tech, I look for everything thing to be an investment.  So, if you look at costs this way:
  1. Printing and faxing supplies averaging $70/month or $840/year
  2. If you reduce your printing by 90%, you have now reduced your costs to $84/year for a savings of $756/year.
  3. Cost of a base iPad 2 (16GB and WiFi only) is $499, and the iPad first generation is now $399.
  4. Cost of a stylus is $20
  5. SignMyPad app is $4.99
  6. Total initial cost with the iPad 2 is $524.  
  7. Compare that to the savings of $756 and you have just paid for everything within the first year and then some by simply reducing your costs of printing and faxing.
What ways are you going paperless?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Cycle Flagler by the Rotary Club of Flagler Beach

Cycle Flagler, 8th Annual Bike Event with 24, 40, 62 or 100 mile monitored rides will take place on April 10th 2011, with the start at 8a.m. from the Flagler County Chamber of Commerce (20 Airport Rd).   Fees are $30 with preregistration by Friday, April 8th; and $35 if you register the day of the event.

The tour includes scenic highways and part of the A1A Scenic Byway in beautiful Flalger County, FL. Our tour includes SAG stops and monitored rides of 24, 40, 62 or 100 miles. The first 400 registered participants will receive an event tee shirt and an old-fashioned picnic following your tour.

Pre-Registration is available through here.

Sponsored by: