Archive for January, 2015

Check out bizHUMM for all things small business

January 24, 2015

New Free Business Resource Website to Help Small Companies Grow

I’d like to introduce you to a brand new business resource website — bizHUMM.com — for all things small business. A lot of care, thought, creativity, valuable knowledge, and pure fun went into producing this website. It was created and directed by my brother-in-law, Laurie Sluser, with help from the Integrated Internet Marketing team at Galaxy Ninja.

I’ve known Laurie for a long time. We taught TM together in Montreal over 40 years ago and he married one of my sisters. So we’ve been together as a family for a long time. Laurie started this website with another longtime mutual friend, Ruby Finkelstein. We all live in Fairfield, Iowa. I asked Laurie about his new company, where the idea came from, and what he hopes to accomplish with it.

bizHUMM homepage

Click image to enlarge details.

Ken Chawkin: What exactly is bizHUMM?

Laurie Sluser: bizHUMM is a content rich website that offers excellent and practical resources for entrepreneurs, owners and managers to help them grow their small businesses. When you visit our site you will see that we are starting with useful written content and in the coming year we’ll be adding engaging video content, webinars and online training programs — all for small businesses.

KC: How did you come up with the idea?

LS: Well, I’ve worked in business most of my life. Most recently, for the past 16 years, I ran a national software engineering staffing company. I have had the joy of working with smart people, close friends and family and we all wore many hats. And one experience repeated itself over and over again. A problem would arise and we wanted a solution now. Google is great but the searches for our needs were often unsatisfactory. It was obvious that there was a gap in the market.

When I went out on my own last summer I got together with Ruby, a lifelong friend of mine, and we were determined to come up with a solution to this market need. There should be one site with practical answers and useful information for every phase and type of small business — software companies and florists, restaurants and online businesses, consultants and manufacturers. You get the idea — one site that helps all types of small businesses to grow. And from that inspiration bizHUMM emerged.

KC: I see you are in Beta (test) mode now. When do you officially launch, and does it cost anything to join?

LS: It’s taken us the better part of one year but we are finally there and ready to launch our small business resource website. We just launched our Beta version for about a 5-week period and are limiting ourselves to 1000 founding members. It’s free and very easy to sign up. Please go to http://bizhumm.com and set up your own account. It would mean a great deal to me for you to join our Beta group. Kindly share bizHUMM.com with your friends who you think would benefit, and we really look forward to any feedback you may have. Thanks so much, I appreciate your support!

KC: How did you come up with the name, bizHUMM? And who or what is Hummy?

bizHUMM beta logo

LS: Ruby asked me what I wanted to call the business, and the name just burst out of me. It just came right out of the clear blue. Biz, because it had something to do with small business, and humm just came before I could even think about it. So I thought bizHUMM. As soon as I said it, Ruby loved it. He asked me, “How do you spell it?” I answered, “b-i-z-h-u-m-m.” He said, “Shouldn’t it be one m?” And I replied, “No, it’s got to be two m’s.” The whole thing happened in two minutes without thinking. We were laughing, we knew we had a name people would relate to. When I mention it to friends, they love the name.

KC: Why do you spell it the way you do?

LS: It’s for small businesses wanting to create a big HUMM. 🙂

HUMM of the DAYAs for Hummy, we wanted a smart, lovable spokesperson with a name that played off of bizHUMM. We came up with the name Henry Hummingbird, or Hummy for short. He’s a tiny hummingbird with big dreams. You can read more about Hummy on his bio page.

KC: I notice your website has a HUMM of the day. What is that?

LS: The featured post of the day or Humm of the Day is found at the top of the home page each day. But there is a good deal of useful content in every area of business activity.

KC: What can anyone running their own business, or working in one, gain from your website?

LS: We have a free content website that organizes its posts into 5 main categories of Startups, Sales, Marketing, Technology and Finance. These 5 areas are then broken down into almost 50 subcategories such as Sales Training, SEO, Finance Software and so on. The idea is to have one resource that can introduce you to practical content in any area your small business may need to promote its growth.

KC: How can people get more out of your website? Are there any added fees for these services?

LS: The site is and will always be free. Later this year, we will introduce a Premium membership program. However, we will be adding free webinars and video content for our regular members as well.

KC: Thank you for your time. I wish you a lot of success with this new venture, and success to those fortunate enough to take advantage of your generous time and energy.

LS: Thanks Ken. I appreciate you sharing this. Here’s wishing success to all your readers.

Editor’s note: GETTING STARTED: Discover the 12 most popular bizHUMM features: http://bizhumm.com/getting-started.

NEW: Download a PDF of their free ebook: How To Start A Business: The Ultimate Free Guide.

Related news: Business startup expert @AsherFergusson featured among @MaharishU successful alumni.

See this new TMhome.com INTERVIEW: Laurie Sluser on business success, happiness & meditation.

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Greg Reitman’s film, ROOTED in PEACE, inspires us to change from within to transform the world

January 22, 2015

Rooted in Peace PosterThis Saturday, January 24, 2015, PublicVine will host a private screening of Sundance award-winning director/producer Greg Reitman’s latest film, ROOTED in PEACE. The event will be held at the I-Heart Radio Lounge located in the heart of Sundance on Main Street in Park City, Utah. The film will be presented using PublicVine’s innovative social media platform. There will be a live question and answer after the screening with filmmaker Greg Reitman, PublicVine CEO Nam Mokwunye, and writer/producer Scott Zarakin, followed by an after party for all in attendance.

Greg Reitman says one of the most important issues for filmmakers wanting to get their films out into the marketplace is being able “to reach the widest available audience while retaining as much financial control as possible.” He feels PublicVine’s platform will provide “a perfect balance for releasing our new film, ROOTED in PEACE.” And when it comes to reaching consumers for digital transactions on a world-wide level Reitman adds, “PublicVine’s platform is going to be a game-changer for filmmakers.”

PublicVine CEO Nam Mokwunye points out that Reitman’s screening of ROOTED in PEACE “from his channel on PublicVine could be a first in film history.” He says it will only “give us a glimpse of what is possible with PublicVine and what opportunities lie ahead.”

Read the press release to find out more details about this innovative social video marketplace and how it can benefit filmmakers.

About ROOTED in PEACE

Greg_ReitmanROOTED in PEACE challenges viewers to examine their values as Americans and human beings. Today we are at war within ourselves, with our environment, and with the world. Director and award-winning filmmaker Greg Reitman invites viewers on a film journey to take notice of the world we live in, proactively seek ways to find personal and ecological peace, and stop the cycle of violence.

The film relies not only on memoir, but also interviews with such luminaries and activists as Deepak Chopra, music legends Donovan, Mike Love, and Pete Seeger, film director David Lynch, Noble Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, media mogul Ted Turner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, green architect William McDonough, physician and best-selling author Mark Hyman, neuroscientists Dan Siegel and Fred Travis, sustainability and nutritional experts, and many more.

Reitman learns from all of them, and heeds Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s words, that if the forest is to be green, every tree must be green; if there’s going to be Peace on earth, then everybody needs to experience that quality of Peace within themselves. And so in asking viewers to do the same, Reitman poses the basic question: How do we want to live?

Reitman’s journey is an example of transformation — how one person can learn to make the necessary changes to enjoy a better life — and in so doing inspire others to want to improve their own lives, and society as a whole.

About Greg Reitman

Greg Reitman is the founder of Blue Water Entertainment, Inc., an independent production company focusing on environmentally conscious entertainment. Widely regarded as Hollywood’s “Green Producer,” Greg produced the 2008 SUNDANCE Audience Award-winning feature documentary “FUEL.” He wrote, produced, and directed the feature documentary “HOLLYWOOD’S MAGICAL ISLAND-CATALINA” (PBS) and returns back on the festival circuit with his latest revolutionary feature documentary film, “ROOTED in PEACE.” He’s currently in development on the motion picture film: “The Roni Levi Story.”

Recently, Mantra Magazine asked Greg Reitman about the Importance of Meditation, how Transcendental Meditation played a role in his life, and why it is important to him as a filmmaker.

FILM UPDATE

ROOTED in PEACE premiered at the 21st Annual Sedona International Film Festival, February 21–March 1, 2015. It was one of five films selected and reviewed for Broadway World by Hebert Paine. See BWW Reviews: ROOTED IN PEACE Meets The Aquarian Conspiracy. An interesting and intelligent review, Paine really understood Greg’s intention in making the movie. He did him and the film justice.

On March 25, 2015, the film was spotlighted in the 22nd Annual Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival at UMass Amherst, Greg’s alma mater.

ROOTED in PEACE will have its Iowa premiere at the Sondheim Theater for the Performing Arts in Fairfield, Iowa, August 2nd. Get tickets here. Related news: ROOTED in PEACE to play Martha’s Vineyard and an Iowa premiere at Fairfield’s Sondheim Center.

Scott Cawelti: It’s about time for “Quiet Time”

January 12, 2015

This Quiet Time article appeared in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. It is published here with permission from the columnist, Scott Cawelti, a retired professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa, freelance writer and musician. Contact him at cawelti@forbin.net. Click here to see Scott Cawelti BIO. Photo by Doug Hines.

It’s about time for “Quiet Time”

January 11, 2015 6:00 am  • 

Nothing succeeds like success, as they say, and I’m here to report two genuine successes. One is small, the other large, a possible game-changer.

The small success involves my own daily meditation practice. It began over 30 years ago and continues to this day.

As a young assistant professor teaching anywhere from 90 to 250 students in three classes, struggling with writing conference papers, grading piles of student essays, meeting with students, attending multiple faculty committees, facing constant pressure to do more and do better, I was stressed. I mean, stressed out, exhausted, short-tempered and chronically anxious. I was staying afloat, but barely.

In those days, Cedar Falls had a Transcendental Meditation Center down on Third and Main streets, and a couple of friends each recommended I try TM.

Scott Cawelti

Scott Cawelti

I did, and it worked. Within a few days of twice-daily meditation, I began feeling relaxed, then peaceful, then downright blissed out. Well, not quite, but close.

And it continued. No one was more surprised than I.

Over the years I’ve attended meditation workshops, modified my practice slightly, and still continue meditating twenty minutes, twice a day. It has made all the difference in my stress level, and I’m still alive, well and pushing 72.

I’m convinced regular brain-quieting has given me more, and better, years. That’s what meditation does, by the way: quiets our always-buzzing brains.

I recommend some form of meditation for anyone who feels overwhelmed with pushes and pulls beyond their control. If it worked for me, it will work for you.

Beyond my own small life, there’s a much larger meditation success story that recently made national news.

At Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco, they began a program in 2007 of twice-daily “quiet time” breaks for the entire school. This particular school sits in a rough, even violent, neighborhood. Attendance, academic scores and teacher and student retention were dismal.

Teachers and students alike hated the chaos of school days. In other words, the school made no progress toward anything but failure.

Now, after over seven years, they can judge Quiet Time’s success. It’s been dramatic, schoolwide and heartening. This is how David Kirp, a professor of public policy at Berkeley, describes the results:

“In the first year of Quiet Time, the number of suspensions fell by 45 percent. Within four years, the suspension rate was among the lowest in the city. Daily attendance rates climbed to 98 percent, well above the citywide average. Grade point averages improved markedly. About 20 percent of graduates are admitted to Lowell High School – before Quiet Time, getting any students into this elite high school was a rarity. Remarkably, in the annual California Healthy Kids Survey, these middle school youngsters recorded the highest happiness levels in San Francisco.”

Amazing but true. Kirp continues:

“On the California Achievement Test, twice as many students in Quiet Time schools have become proficient in English, compared with students in similar schools where the program doesn’t exist, and the gap is even bigger in math. Teachers report they’re less emotionally exhausted and more resilient.”

Incidentally, students are not forced to practice TM. They can simply close their eyes, daydream, nap — as long as they’re quiet during those two 15-minute periods.

Parents must give permission if they want their child to learn the meditation technique.

I can hear objections: wasting valuable school time, returning to hippie-dom, imposing a religious practice in a state school. All of these seem to be satisfactorily answered, since the program’s success with the parents’ permission for seven years speaks for itself.

Best of all, Quiet Time costs virtually nothing, and it affects whole schools so positively (based on real data) it’s at least worth a look.

My own small success story offers unqualified support.

Much more power to them.

# # #

Quiet Time at Visitacion Valley Middle School

Principal James Dierke first implemented the Quiet Time Program at Visitacion Valley Middle School in San Francisco. As a result of his school’s dramatic turnaround he was selected NASSP National Middle School Principal of the Year in 2008. Principal Dierke wrote an article about it (a Quiet Transformation) for Leadership, a publication of the Association of California School Administrators. He concluded, “I retire with the lowest blood pressure I have had in 10 years and a great optimism about our ability to realize this vision for education.”

NBC Nightly News reports on the Quiet Time Program

NEW VIDEO: With the successful transformation of Visitacion Valley Middle School several schools in the San Francisco Unified School District also incorporated the meditation-based Quiet Time Program with amazing results. Cynthia McFadden visited both Visitacion Valley Middle School and Burton High School and filed a report on December 30, 2014 for NBC Nightly News: San Francisco Schools Transformed by the Power of Meditation. Visit the David Lynch Foundation for more on the Quiet Time program in schools.

Edutopia reported on Quiet Time at Visitacion Valley Middle School

David Markus, former Editorial Director of Edutopia, had visited the school and produced this report: Risking Peace at a Troubled School. Below is the video: How Daily Meditation Improves Behavior. Here is another video on the school’s program: Meditation in San Francisco School Improves Learning

World-famous classical guitarist @SharonIsbin says #TranscendentalMeditation “helped make me the person that I am.”

January 7, 2015

Sharon Isbin: Seeking Out Serenity

Classical guitarist Sharon Isbin has been a trailblazer for both female musicians, and the guitar’s place in the world of classical music. A winner of two Grammys, she is the director of guitar programs at the Juilliard School and at the Aspen Music Festival. Liz Robbins interviewed Ms. Isbin for The New York Times and wrote this fascinating article on the world’s greatest classical guitarist: Sharon Isbin: Seeking Out Serenity. The Jan 2, 2015 Sunday Routine featured photos, other aspects of her life, and a short video of Sharon playing guitar. The article was well-written and richly put together. This part took me by surprise:

I have done Transcendental Meditation since I was 17 years old. I do 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes in the afternoon. I really believe it has helped make me the person that I am. Because it is an extraordinary way to release stress and allow it to dissolve, so that you can focus on what you want to focus on, and have your energy towards very positive things.

Sharon Isbin: Cosmic Performer

An earlier insightful article written by Linda Egenes for Enlightenment, The Transcendental Meditation Magazine (Issue 7) sheds more light on this topic: An Interview with Sharon Isbin: The Monet of Classical Guitar. Knowing that Sharon had been practicing TM since she was 17 years old, Linda asked how it had benefited her life, especially performing in front of live audiences. Her amazing reply reveals an enlightened performer.

As a musician, TM enhances my mental stamina, memory, concentration, and ability to learn. It puts me in touch with my innermost creative core and enables its expression through music. Most importantly, it facilitates instant access to a state of “cosmic immersion,” that feeling of being in the flow, or in “the zone.”

Sharon IsbinWhen I perform onstage, I enter a state of being very similar to the one I enter daily when practicing TM. It’s a sense of communion with the energy of the universe, the audience, the composer, and the music—without ego or interference. It’s a feeling of unity between me and the listeners, a sense of “oneness” in which we are all experiencing the beauty of the music together. That sensation is one of the reasons live performances can be so powerful—everyone is focused and transported, and the experience is unique and in the moment, never to be replicated.

Guitar Passions: Sharon Isbin & Friends

Linda also asked Sharon questions about her musical influences and her work as a performer, teacher and collaborator, in particular about her new CD at the time, (August 30, 2011) Guitar Passions: Sharon Isbin & Friends. This promotional video shares music and interviews with Sharon and Steve Vai; in studio with Nancy Wilson (Heart) and Stanley Jordan; previews with Steve Morse, Paul Winter, Rosa Passos, Romero Lubambo, and Thiago de Mello.

Documentary Film: Sharon Isbin: Troubadour

Sharon Isbin is also featured in a new documentary film that came out towards the end of last year, and is still being aired on public television: Sharon Isbin: Troubadour. The one-hour documentary produced by Susan Dangel (2014), includes guests Martina Navratilova, Michelle Obama, Joan Baez, Steve Vai, Stanley Jordan, Garrison Keillor, David Hyde Pierce, Janis Ian, Lesley Gore, Mark O’Connor, Tan Dun, John Corigliano, Christopher Rouse, Joan Tower, Leonard Slatkin, Thiago de Mello, Paul Winter, and more, with Isbin’s performances showcased from international concert stages to the GRAMMYs and White House.

American Public Television presents the national broadcast on nearly 200 public television stations in the US Nov 2014 – March 2015. Video Artists International will release it on DVD/Blu-ray with added performances. See http://www.sharonisbintroubadour.com for screenings, broadcast, and release information.

Sharon Isbin on The Leonard Lopate Show

Today, Wed, January 7, 2015, WNYC’s Leonard Lopate interviewed Sharon Isbin about the program: A New Documentary On The Acclaimed Classical Guitarist, Sharon Isbin (16:33). Leonard asks Sharon about her Transcendental Meditation practice at the 10:50 mark. She answers at 11:08–12:20. Leonard mentions Julliard School inviting Sharon to head up a guitar department in their Music division and asks if Transcendental Meditation is part of the program. At the request of the David Lynch Foundation, Sharon did invite teachers to introduce the TM technique to Julliard faculty, staff, and students, offering to make it available for free. Listen to the interview here: http://www.wnyc.org/story/sharon-isbin.

Visit Sharon Isbin’s website, www.sharonisbin.com, for more information: biography, press, music, videos, tours, and more.

A poem in a movie inviting you to be who you are

January 2, 2015

I recently enjoyed watching Words and Pictures, a 2013 film about a male English teacher and a female art instructor who form a rivalry that ends up galvanizing students in a competition to decide the most effective way to communicate, using words or pictures. This battle between mind and heart, ideas and feelings, is also about self-discovery, expressing one’s creativity, and the blocks that get in the way. Cleverly written by Gerald Di Pego, a one-time English teacher, and faithfully directed by Fred Schepisi, it stars Clive Owen, Juliette Binoche, and Bruce Davison. Visit their website for more info: http://wordsandpicturesthemovie.com.

I especially liked the quotes about writing and art, the word vs. the image. A poem by Mary Oliver was supposed to be featured in the film. They never said which one, but kept waiting for permission to use it. By the time the answer came in, no, it was too late, and they had to come up with a replacement. The pressure was on screenwriter Gerald Di Pego. Being a poet himself, and seeing how this was his screenplay, the muse inspired him and he wrote this very vivid and appropriate poem, just in time. Juliette Binoche liked it, which came as a relief to him and the director. I found it online and wanted to share it with you. The poem plays a central role, but you’ll have to see the film to find out who wrote it and how it’s used.

WHO ARE YOU?

I am a small poem
On a page with room
For another.

Share with me
This white field,
Wide as an acre
Of snow, clear
But for these tiny
Markings like the
Steps of a bird.
Come. Now.

This is the trough
Of the wave, the
Seconds after
Lightning, thin
Slice of silence
As music ends,
The freeze before
The melting. Hurry.

Lie down beside me.
Make angels. Make devils.
Make who you are.

As you can see, the poem invites you to create and become who you are, from that gap, the transitional point of possibility, and to share in the experience with another. Here’s a poem I wrote after a special painting class that seems relevant: ArtWords—poem about a creative awakening.

Interestingly, the Special Features part of the DVD revealed that Juliette Binoche, an artist in her own right, offered to do all of the paintings herself, which thrilled both writer and director. Because her character is dealing with physical challenges due to her medical condition, she had to paint in different styles, from portraiture to more abstract. Binoche enjoyed the added challenge and it possibly influenced her own future work.

Here is the official Words and Pictures – International Trailer (2014) HD.

When it comes to romantic movies, here are some of my favorite films where love transcends time.

Canadian Connection: These shoes are made for walking

The featurette also confirmed for me where they had made the film. The story is set in a New England prep school, but was actually shot at St. George’s School, an independent boarding and day university-preparatory school for boys in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, a.k.a., Hollywood North.

I recognized the location, and it reminded me of a story I had heard on a local CBC radio talk show during my stay there. The guest was an English teacher who taught at St. George’s School. One of the topics being discussed was meeting famous people. Listeners called in to share their stories and the teacher related an unusual event that had recently happened to him.

He had gone shopping at a well-known store for comfortable walking shoes. He settled on a particular pair and the sales clerk told him it was a popular item. She said someone famous had been in that morning and purchased a similar pair. She left to find out the name of the celebrity, but got sidetracked, so he left.

He put on his new shoes and, as was his routine everyday after lunch, he went for a walk in the woods next to the school property. While walking along the path, eyes downcast, he saw a pair of shoes just like his, coming his way. Looking up he saw someone he never would have expected to see, especially in the forest. He pointed at him in surprise trying to say his name, but it came out as gibberish. The person mimicked him sputtering his name. It was Robin Williams! I think he was in town at that time filming Jumanji.

They had a wonderful walk and talk together. Robin had asked him what he did for a living and where he worked, which was something he could identify with having played an English teacher at an elite boys prep school in Dead Poets Society. When they reached the edge of the forest, there was Robin’s stretch limousine parked on the street waiting for him. He invited the teacher into the car saying they would drop him off at the school.

Now this man was not the most popular teacher at the school. When they pulled up, he got out of the limo, and all heads turned to look at him. Then Robin lowered the darkly tinted window, stuck his head out, and thanked the teacher for a wonderful time. All the kids’ jaws dropped! And from that day on he was the coolest person at school. Thank you, Robin! God Bless you, wherever you are.


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