Brands and Followers: Go Directly to Sales, Do not Pass Go/No‑Go

With social networks increasingly forcing brands to pay to reach consumers, it’s more important than ever to find ways to incorporate genuine, consumer-generated reviews and videos onto retail websites’ product pages. The technology exists not only to engage consumers but also to track their posts’ impact on sales.

Brands and followers. Brands and influencers. Brands and fans.

The terminology may fluctuate, but the objective is the same: How to build efficient, friction-free connections between brands and customers through enabling technology.

Until recently that “technology” has been social media. Janet buys a great pair of shoes and shares her enthusiasm with her social network. Then perhaps some of those folks who respect her opinion run out and buy a pair for themselves.

“Bottom-up endorsements by friends and family are much more powerful than down-top promotions.”

That’s great as far as it goes, and does result in a circuitous route to sales. But there are major disconnects in that scenario:

  • Brands have minimal or no information on what their followers are doing or for connecting the dots between those followers and the purchases they may be driving.
  • Followers are often seeing no compensation (or unwarrantedly high compensation) for the sales they are generating.
  • If followers are being compensated, brands have no way to verify and track those connections and results.

That sure sounds like a lose-lose situation.

Read the full story here

Tangram Custom Furniture Unit Relaunched as Studio Other

studio other

Tangram, a curator of commercial interior environments and workspaces, recently announced the evolution of its Tangram Studio custom furniture unit to become an independent entity under the name Studio Other. Charlotte Wiederholt continues as president and creative director.

Since its inception in 1996, Studio has built a reputation as a premier creator of innovative custom furnishings for environments ranging from corporate workplaces to educational institutions and healthcare facilities. Moreover, that growth has taken place on a nationwide basis. Clients have included Boston Consulting Group, Saatchi & Saatchi, Juno Therapeutics, Imagine Entertainment, Loyola Marymount University, Toms Shoes, Pinkberry and Ticketmaster.

Studio Other represents the maturation of what began as a start-up entity incubated and developed within Tangram Interiors. Its new status will enable Studio Other to operate independently under its own brand identity as it pursues ongoing expansion across the U.S.

Early Warning Labs Delivers the Only Commercially Licensed ShakeAlerts to People & Automated Systems Across Southern California during Recent M6.4 & M7.1 Earthquakes

The largest seismic event to hit the Southern California region in over 20 years rattled Los Angeles and surrounding communities with shaking that lasted over 30 seconds.

This was the first wide-scale test of earthquake early warning in a large seismic event and Early Warning Labs was able to successfully deliver warnings of 50+ seconds before the shaking was felt.

“This was the big test we have been preparing for the last 5 years. We are fortunate the earthquake was not closer to Los Angeles or another metropolitan area, the outcome would have been deadly. I’m proud of our team and our partner the USGS for working relentlessly getting the early warning system ready for this exact scenario. It’s bittersweet really, you never want to see a large earthquake happen, but it’s a great feeling to know our system works as designed and is ready to save lives.” – Josh Bashioum Early Warning Labs Founder

“The ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System and its over 50 partners in California, Oregon, and Washington continue to improve the delivery of ShakeAlerts to people and automated systems. Our first commercial license partner Early Warning Labs (EWL), has been a USGS partner since 2014 and they like other partners have worked in close coordination with us to implement solutions in many sectors including healthcare, schools, transportation systems, and in public buildings. EWL has also worked with us to develop and improve appropriate education and training so public safety is maximized.” – Dr. Robert M. de Groot, USGS ShakeAlert Project Coordinator

July 4 – 6.4 Magnitude Quake

It was a wild 4th of July for residents near and around Ridgecrest, CA as a magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit at 10:33 am. Shaking was felt over a wide area spanning from Northern California to Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Early Warning Labs earthquake early warning system (powered by USGS ShakeAlert) functioned properly, stayed online, and was able to deliver alerts to both our commercial clients and mobile app users. EWL was the only commercially licensed USGS partner to successfully deliver early warnings during this recent shaking sequence.

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Savoy Foundation Raises Thousands for Caterina’s Club

Notte di Savoia

Expanding its commitment to the welfare of children through its new campaign launch “Chivalry for Children’s Causes,” the American Foundation of Savoy Orders raised thousands for Caterina’s Club during its annual West Coast gala – Notte di Savoia – in Los Angeles on April 6, 2019. This year, $100,000 was donated for the Southern California-based charity from funds raised by the event. The grant was presented to Caterina’s Club founder Chef Bruno Serato during the Savoy Foundation’s Annual Spring Event – Festa della Primavera – on June 11, 2019 in New York City for its work providing meals, housing and job training for disadvantaged children and families.

The American Foundation of Savoy Orders was founded to support philanthropic causes, among which is the care for needy children. This year, the Savoy Foundation launched a new charitable initiative – Chivalry for Children’s Causes – a multi-year campaign to assist institutions and charitable organizations whose programs aid children and families in need, building stable, healthy families, by providing enrichment spaces, basic meals for improved health and stable living conditions in economically disadvantaged environments.

Carl Morelli, Chairman of the Board stated: “I am delighted to present the Caterina’s Club grant to Bruno Serato for his outstanding efforts to bring to the forefront a most worthy cause for children and their families. Our Foundation was founded for chivalric causes among which is the care for disadvantaged children. We are ever so proud of the funds raised at our Los Angeles Notte di Savoia in April of this year and I will present this with great pride on behalf of all those sponsors and benefactors who made it possible for 11 families to find permanent homes in Los Angeles. ”

“We are extremely pleased and grateful for this gift,” said Chef Bruno Serato, Founder of Caterina’s Club in Anaheim, California. “It’s wonderful to be able to announce it and celebrate with the families and young people that we serve. We will be able to find homes for 11 families who have been living in motel rooms without a kitchen and adequate living space, some for as long as 10 years! This generous grant from the Savoy Foundation represents a tremendous boost to our philanthropic efforts to support the many families that need our help.”

Read full article here

The Trillion Dollar Power Play: Opportunity Zones

Let that word “trillion” sink in for a moment. Do I have your attention?

Good. Because Opportunity Zones just may be one of the biggest business opportunities of our generation.

  • More than $2 trillion in unrealized gains currently sit on the ledgers of investors and corporations, according to the Economic Innovation Group.
  • Investing these funds directly in 8,700 Opportunity Zones (or 1 in 8 U.S. Census tracts) for 10 years or more would eliminate any federal taxes due on those gains – and potentially reduce poverty via job creation and income growth related to those investments.

This July, we organized some of the brightest minds on this topic for a select group of attendees in Orange County, CA. So what is an “Opportunity Zone”, and how do businesses and communities ultimately benefit? First, some historical context.

Opportunity Zones originally stemmed from a discussion between Sean Parker (co-founder of Napster) and Peter Thiel (PayPal) back in 2015, as both were interested in creating a tax-efficient mechanism that would encourage capital investment in historically low-income tract census areas around the country.

Parker and Thiel found political allies in Sen. Cory Booker (D) and Sen. Tim Scott (R), who co-authored a bill to create Opportunity Zones. Over 8700 low-income census tracts were identified around the country, and the bill became part of the sweeping 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Opportunity Zone Program provides for the deferral of long term capital gains, and potential for a step up in basis and elimination of long term capital gains.

The U.S. Treasury confirmed Opportunity Zone maps in June of 2018 and issued the first set of regulations in October of 2018.

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Sources: U.S. Census, HIP Investor

2019: What We Know and How It Works

Throughout 2019, the IRS and U.S. Treasury have released additional guidance around Opportunity Zones, and one of the most significant included guidance around operating businesses sited within an Opportunity Zone and funded by a Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund (QOF):

Safe harbors: Businesses funded by a QOF can now qualify for tax incentives, as long as they satisfy any of three “safe harbors”:

  1. At least 50% of work hours or amounts paid to employees or independent contractors are spent within the Opportunity Zone, or
  2. At least half of the company’s gross income is generated by tangible property of the business, and
  3. The management or operations are based in the Opportunity Zone.

Reinvestment: Qualified opportunity funds now have a grace period of a single year after the sale of an Opportunity Zone asset to reinvest the proceeds in other Opportunity Zone assets.

The reinvestment feature provides fund managers the option to hold cash and pivot to other properties if a fund’s original investments are not performing at expected levels. This feature should also prove popular with Opportunity Zone Fund investors.

Partnership debt: Investors originally worried that partnerships with debt would not provide a basis adjustment, which is important for distributions. Partnership debt is now included in the investor’s basis and does not impact the amount of the deferred gain in 2026, or the gain from appreciation if the partner sells their interest in the Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund after the 10-year holding period.

Orange County Perspective

Our panel included the aforementioned Carey Ransom (Managing Partner OC4 Ventures), Kevin Maloney (Investor Relations RevOZ Capital), and Johnney Zhang (CEO, Primior). All have created early success with the Opportunity Zone vehicle:

Johnney Zhang, CEO Primior

Primior: On June 26, 2019, Primior celebrated the groundbreaking of its’ first Opportunity Zone project, the ambitious First Harbor Plaza Development in Santa Ana, CA. This project has been celebrated by city and community leaders, and it will positively transform an important section of Santa Ana’s core:

Primior Opportunity Zone Project: Santa Ana

Kevin Maloney, Investor Relations RevOZ Capital

RevOZ Capital: Kevin Maloney (Investor Relations RevOZ) provided our guests with a unique view into the firm’s activity in this space, as they evaluate a pipeline of over 100 Opportunity Zone deals around the country. RevOZ Capital

Carey Ransom, Managing Partner OC4 Ventures

OC4 Ventures: Carey Ransom (Managing Partner OC4 Ventures) provided an inside look at how the Qualified Opportunity Zone Fund will create a tech incubator for early-stage technology companies here in Orange County. This vehicle will attract capital investment, create jobs, and help diversify the local economy beyond the historical powerhouses of real estate and construction. OC4 Ventures

Final Thoughts

Thanks to the Pacific Club in Newport Beach, CA for hosting this event. A special thanks to our host and sponsor Sinan Kanatsiz (CEO, KCOMM), and to Robert Mosier.

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The Opportunity Zone vehicle presents an unbelievable opportunity for communities, investors, and the firms putting OZ Funds together.

And as always, create your own Opportunity Zone by investing time with the market and thought leaders that will reshape much of our tomorrow through this innovative program.

Be Great,


Sean Conrad is a Principal with EPIC Insurance Brokers and Consultants, and an entrepreneur and investor. Sean is an accomplished Senior Executive with 20 years of success in the commercial insurance brokerage industry and is passionate about leveraging his expertise in risk management, employee benefits, and sales and marketing to make businesses better. Sean is also a Founding Member of The International Executive Council (IEC), one of Southern California’s premiere Executive Business Networks.

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Primior’s First Harbor Plaza Development in Santa Ana Opportunity Zone Breaks Ground on June 26

Primior Groundbreaking

Primior, a leading real estate development and investment management firm, broke ground on its First Harbor Plaza development in Santa Ana on Wed., June 26, 2019. Two major tenants are already in place for the mixed-use project, Chase Bank and Optima Salon Suites.

At the intersection of N. Harbor Blvd. and W. 1st St., First Harbor Plaza is a 40,129-sq.-ft. restaurant, retail, office and medical property located in one of Santa Ana’s busiest areas with high traffic counts of some 71,000 cars daily. The surrounding area has a population of just over 784,000 within five miles. A key draw of the property is its location in a recently established Opportunity Zone.

“We are very pleased to be developing one of the first properties of this type in Santa Ana under this important program,” said Primior CEO Johnney Zhang. “The positive impact this innovative financing model will have on the local community in terms of strong economic opportunities and an enhanced quality of life has led us to seek out areas where we can make a contribution.”

The Opportunity Zone program was created by the 2017 Tax Cuts & Jobs Act to revitalize economically distressed communities through private investment as opposed to taxpayer dollars. Opportunity Zones have now been designated in all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. possessions.

To motivate participation in the program, taxpayers investing in a Qualified Opportunity Zone via an Opportunity Fund can benefit from capital gains tax incentives available exclusively through the program. Moreover, in comparison to other programs that encourage private investment in low-income areas through tax advantages, the Opportunity Zone program is less restrictive, costly and reliant upon government agencies.

First Harbor Plaza includes two structures. Building 1 encompasses some 14,400 sq. ft. in two large anchor suites and five smaller spaces on the first floor, with the same configuration on the second floor. Chase Bank occupies the premium, first-floor corner space in that building. Building 2 includes approximately 3,880 sq. ft. on the first floor, two suites on the second floor totaling 3,778 sq. ft. and a third-floor suite of 3,778 sq. ft. to be occupied by Optima Salon Suites.

Primior offers a uniquely integrated suite of real estate services designed to produce superior levels of value, income generation and return on investment. Its investment properties include single development projects, REITs and Opportunity Funds.

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Better Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain Injury


This is the experience of a neurosurgeon, since 1977. In the early years of severe head trauma in a patient, when the intracranial pressure (ICP) was too high, the dura had to be left open, with the skull removed, which is known as craniectomy (the large skull bone was left out and the scalp and skin was closed in a hurry). One would hope and pray for the patient’s survival, but the majority died, except a few who remained in a vegetative state. In 1984, with the trauma system being established and ICP monitoring developed, ventriculostomy (to put a silastic catheter in to the brain’s ventricle to drain the cerebro-spinal fluid) proved to be the the best help to these patients for monitoring and lowering intracranial pressure. I used it in severe brain trauma and severe brain hemorrhage in comatose patients since 1984, and I saw the benefit in the improvement of patients. Whenever ICP is raised, the only thing that can be sacrificed is the Cerebrospinal fluids (CSF), which the brain produces about 30 cc per hour without interruption, thus protecting the brain and the blood that feeds the brain. Over the years, decompressive craniectomy became popular, although it has 24 possible complications reported by one of the leading universities in San Francisco. Since the year 2000, to keep the balance of the brain’s two hemispheres, I elected to do 2 ventriculostomies on the right and left sides of the brain as a first surgery and followed this with removal of the hematoma, bone fragments, bullets, etc. This improved the survival of the patients with better neurological conditions and few possible complication with ventriculostomies. This surgical approach needs early surgery after the CT of the head, and prevention is better than repair of possible complications. Close team-work to keep the CSF draining requires a little extra work, but the result is happier for the patients and doctor at about 20%. I will be happy to explain and show details. I have examples of 159 patients: 92 TBI (traumatic brain injury), 33 ICH (spontaneous intracranial elderly patents), 17 intracranial gun shot wounds, 7 intracranial brain tumors with hemorrhage coma, 10 subarachnoid intraventricular hemorrhage patients to demonstrate the value of this surgical procedure.


Approximately 1.4 million people experience a TBI (traumatic brain injuries) every year in the US, and 50,000 people die from head injuries in the US every year. Approximately 1 million people with head injuries are treated in hospitals every year in the US. Surgeons usually start with a decompressive craniectomy, then the removal of the subdural hematoma or epidural hematoma, or intracerebral hematoma after medical treatment and observation and the deterioration of the patient. However, if one starts with a decompressive craniectomy and then proceeds to a ventriculostomy, the ventriculostomy becomes more difficult to perform and is less successful, due to the brain’s shift from atmospheric pressure. Some surgeons start with a ventriculostomy, which soon obstructs the blood products and stops draining the CSF. After severe TBI, every hour, more than a million neurons (brain cells) die and the brain cannot make new ones, only partially injured ones, if the increased ICP is quickly brought back to the normal values. With proper treatment, patients can recover and slowly improve, but time is life for the brain. This was the reason trauma centers started in 1984 in the US. After severe TBI, the condition of patients in the first 72 hours, even after proper surgical treatments, usually deteriorates. The first three days is a very critical time, patients should be monitored very closely. Any stimulations, pain, temperature increase, suctioning of the mouth, coughing, sneezing, difficulty breathing, can increase ICP suddenly.


As soon as a patient with severe TBI arrives at an emergency room (ER), after routine treatment of resuscitation, controlling the airway, blood pressure, circulation, CPR, then CT of head and other necessary CTs, then it is better to start with the right and left side ventriculostomies, to start draining CSF and monitor ICP and keep this open with Bacitracin solution irrigation as needed and than proceed to other necessary surgeries, removal of the hematoma, bone fragments and control hemorrhages. It is better to keep severe TBI patients completely asleep for the first three days, and the ICP under control post surgery, with a daily CT of the head, and keep CSF draining as needed and follow head injury medical protocol. If more time is needed for CSF draining and pressure of ICP remains controlled for more than 7 days, then one should remove the old ventriculostomy tubes and put a ventriculo-pertoneal shunt, which can stay permanently. If all of these measures fails, then a decompressive craniectomy can be added, but not as a first step. With right and left ventriculostomies, by preventing complications or morbidities of decompressive craniectomy, surviving patients will be more, and neurological deficits will be less. I will be happy to explain the details. I have done more than one thousand ventriculostomies without serious complications, over the years.

Interested in learning more? You can find more information here:

The Economic Consequences of California’s Housing Crisis

housing construction

California’s housing crisis has received a heightened level of attention in 2019 and rightfully so.

A statewide survey conducted earlier this year by the Public Policy Institute of California made headlines regarding the overwhelmingly high level of public apprehension over skyrocketing housing costs. Not only did a record-high share of Californians say that the lack of affordable housing is a big problem in their region, but an eye-opening 35 percent said that high housing costs have them seriously considering leaving the state.

In Sacramento, the housing crisis has come to the forefront as well, with a myriad of housing bills introduced in the state legislature. The most notable of these bills, Senate Bill 50 by Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, generated a vigorous discussion over the issue of local control, eventually failing to pass out of committee. Other issues such as environmental regulations and rent control have fanned the flames of debate among various stakeholders.

As part of this debate, it’s critical not to overlook the negative economic consequences that accompany such a massive scarcity of affordable housing. Not only has the lack of new home construction in California caused a substantial financial hardship on individuals renting or purchasing homes, but the state’s overall economy has suffered as well.

A study by the well-respected McKinsey Global Institute found that due to the state’s housing shortage, California’s economy loses over $140 billion per year in economic output.

Included is an estimated loss of over $50 billion per year in consumer consumption due to the state’s high cost of housing. When people are spending a substantial portion of their paychecks on rent or mortgage payments, they have less to spend elsewhere. For low-income residents, this often means that income that would ordinarily be spent on basic necessities like food and clothing is redirected towards housing costs.

Read full article here

Staples Every Wardrobe Needs


What does a nude stiletto and a navy suit have in common? They are classic, timeless and always come in handy! I find classic pieces to be essential and always my go-to’s for everyday wear. These are the pieces I can constantly count on to never let me down and always make sure I look put together.

I like to add my own personality to my style and find my own distinct and comfortable way of dressing. When I am styling our clients and members or even teaching my styling team, I always make sure they understand the importance of basic, classic and timeless pieces. Asking yourself, does my “blank” go with my “blank.” Classics just never let down and always make every occasion work. Creating your own personal style needs to be unique to you and make you feel confident. We all know the feeling in us when we love that outfit we are wearing. Confidence is an energy. People can feel that when you walk in a room. Confidence all starts with what you wear and how you feel about yourself.

One thing we get asked a lot is, what are the top 5 things every wardrobe needs for both men and women. When we are working with clients, most of the time they are people starting over and looking to rebuild their wardrobes. Regardless of where you’re at with your wardrobe there are clothes I suggest you own in your closet if you don’t already. Here is the breakdown for men and for women.

Men’s Wardrobe
Tailoring fitting clothes – most important!
1. Custom Tailored Navy Suit
2. Custom White Button Up
3. Custom Navy Sportcoat
4. Dark Fitted Jeans
5. White cool, causal sneakers

Women’s Wardrobe
1. Black Leather Jacket
2. Black Fitted Jeans
3. Nude Stiletto
4. Cocktail Dress (any color but black is a must!)
5. White or Black Classic Blouse

Signed by,

Bree Jacoby

Under The Influence, part 1 of “Faking It: A 3 Part Social Series on Fake News, Misinformation and Media Bias”

How to Keep Your Stories Straight in a Shareable Social World, Hosted by the World Affairs Council of Orange County, your trusted source of information and forum on world affairs.

Moderated by Brian Calle, Owner, LA Weekly

Speakers: Neel Grover and Ambreen Qamar

We’ll discuss the moral complexities of companies’ use of advertising to promote their stances on political and social issues, including the companies that have gone so far as to endorse political candidates in their ads. Gain a better understanding of the influence our media consumption has on us and how companies are interacting with their customers. We’ll also touch on the role of social media “influencers” in politics and social issues, with a focus on companies like Patagonia, Gillette, Northface, and Nike.

Tuesday, Jul 16, 2019
6:00PM – 8:00PM

UCI Applied Innovation at The Cove
5141 California Ave #250
Irvine, CA 92617

Register here by making a $25 donation