The Impact of the LATM Program on School Attendance, Academic Acheivement, and On-Time Grade Promotion

The Los Angeles Team Mentoring (LATM) program aims to guide middle school students growing up in challenging urban environments to recognize and reach their full potential as members of our community. Through a schoolbased team approach to mentoring, young adolescents are given the tools and support necessary to make positive choices during a critical period in their lives.

The LATM’s latest study details the shared success conducted within LAUSD’s system.  It’s a longitudinal study that follows LATM youth to see if the positive impact is sustained through high school, years after they leave the program.

No tutoring or academic support is provided,  as all results are based against the control group, with similar youth within LAUSD who do not attend the program.

Visit the links below for a closer look at the study results.

Artistry by Larry Armstrong, CEO of Ware Malcomb, featured in Amsterdam Whitney Gallery

AMSTERDAM WHITNEY GALLERY, 531 West 25th Street, Chelsea, New York City, located on the Ground Floor, is proud to showcase in its exhilarating AUGUST 28-SEPTEMBER 24, 2019 exhibition, leading Contemporary Master Artists whose works explore the abstract, figurative and natural worlds, exalting the realm of the aesthetic through brilliant coloration and dazzling form.

This specially curated exhibition and “Chelsea Roaring 1920’s ~ Great Gatsby” Gala Champagne Reception on Saturday, September 7th from 3:00-5:00 p.m, at our beautiful Ground Floor Gallery, inaugurates the Opening of the Chelsea Fall Art Season and offers an exuberant visual synthesis of abstract, figurative, photographic, landscape and floral compositions which assiduously captures the senses of both art acquisitors and art aficionados alike with its scintillating regeneration of the visual realm.

Pulsating with dynamic synergy and mesmerizing artistic creativity, these artists’ sophisticated, eclectic and joyful representations of the world shine the spotlight on a universal artistic language. Compelling, lively and emotive, the artworks resonate through the medium of our shared humanity by celebrating the human spirit and connecting with fundamental aspects of identity.

ARTiculations of the ARTissimo explores the global legacy of the abstract world and provides a visual syntax of non-objective expression from the viewpoints of three artists.  Their unique sense of modernistic individualism and heightened emotional responses to the universe is filtered through their expressive abstract perception and visceral imagination. Passionately responding to the sublimity of the universe, they invite the viewers to experience newly redefined visions, carefully highlighted by magnificent color and masterful renderings.

Exploring the tensions between order and chaos and between free form and precision, California architect and artist LAWRENCE ARMSTRONG’s multimedia artwork illuminates a pure aesthetic which ignites creativity and accolades, while probing how a multitude of layers reveal inner thought and meanings.

View more of Lawrence Armstrong’s artwork 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 VIP 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.

2019: What We Know and How It Works

Interest in the Opportunity Zone topic has been robust. At this year’s influential SALT Conference (Skybridge Capital) and Milken Institute Global Conference, there were no fewer than eight breakout sessions or panel discussions on the topic.

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:

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

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

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 even. A special thanks to our host and sponsor Sinan Kanatsiz (CEO, KCOMM), and to Robert Mosier.

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.

Are You A Problem Solver Or An Obstacle Remover?

problem solving

People solve problems in order to achieve success in their business, create a more satisfying relationship or grow to their next level of excellence.

However, have you noticed that for every problem solved, you create two or three new ones?

Maybe the problem is that we want to earn more money, so we take a job that is more demanding, but now we don’t have time to spend with family or friends. Or, the problem is that we aren’t completing our tasks on time, so we put more time and effort into getting everything done and end up burned out or sick.

Problems arise when we face an obstacle on our path, whether it is the path to success, to a loving relationship or to a great vacation. Solving a problem directly generated by an obstacle rarely works because, in many cases, the obstacle is still there. If there is an obstacle while driving, we go around it. But the obstacle is still there slowing down traffic for many people after you. We need to find a way to remove the obstacle itself. The same is true for organizations.

In an organization, the obstacle may be a lack of information or a lack of inclusion on decisions that disrupt our momentum in completing our tasks or serving customers. We tend to solve the problems by creating a “workaround,” blaming someone else for the problem or simply deciding the problem is the “way we do things around here.” It may look like we solved the problem, but the obstacle is still in play, disrupting our effectiveness.

The role of leaders in any organization is not simply being problem solvers and fixers, but to remove the obstacles that prevent others from working efficiently and effectively to serve customers and maintain a profitable business. And, while you can solve a problem yourself by directing people on how to go around the problem, micromanaging or deflecting the problem to someone else, effective leaders remove obstacles and must work with other leaders (at any level) by recreating the work environment in which the obstacles and associated problems no longer exist.

For instance, when projects are not delivered on time based on mishaps along the way, we have several options:

1. Lengthen the time of the project so that it accounts for breakdowns and allows us to be on time.

2. Punish people for being late and add more pressure to their work in hopes that the pressure will force the project to be on time.

3. Remove the siloed thinking and behavior by the different functions who are part of the project team, and set them up for better coordination, troubleshooting and proactive recovery plans. This ensures that deviations won’t cause a breakdown that keeps the project from being successful.

Removing obstacles is a culture issue, not a problem to be solved.

In order to implement the removal of siloed thinking, hero antics or other ego-oriented behaviors that create obstacles, it’s critical that leadership has its own culture of identifying obstacles and changing the culture in which those obstacles are fed and grow.

How do we create that culture?

Five Steps For Becoming An Obstacle Remover

1. Identify the issue. Have the courage to surface repetitive problems or breakdowns.

2. Be inclusive. Get the people who are touched by these problems or breakdowns in a room, or, if in a remote location, on a conference call together.

3. Identify the underlying obstacle. Instead of solving the problems by finding blame, take time to source the root cause of the problem. Attempt to be innovative in solving the problem and identify the aspect of the culture (habits of thinking or behavior) that has allowed the problem or breakdown to grow over time.

4. Visualize a new reality. Together, start from a clean slate. Identify different roles and expectations, new habits of thinking, and different behaviors that need to be in place for the recurring pattern of breakdowns to no longer exist.

5. Implement the new reality. Develop a plan for implementing the new roles and expectations, the new mindset and the new habits of behavior. Also, create proactive recovery plans for when people slip back to old ways of doing things, as well as a monitoring process to track progress and success.

At the end of the day, leaders must stop spending so much time putting Band-Aids on an unhealthy organization and calling it problem solving. They must dive into changing the work environment itself to remove the root cause obstacles.

Click here to read more

Boustead IPO Client Soliton Closes $9.45 Million Private Placement

Boustead Securities

Boustead Securities, LLC, IPO client Soliton, Inc., (Nasdaq: SOLY) (“Soliton” or the “Company”), a medical device company with a new and proprietary platform technology licensed from The University of Texas on behalf of the MD Anderson Cancer Center (“MD Anderson”), announced that it entered into definitive agreements with certain institutional and accredited investors and raised aggregate gross proceeds of approximately $9.45 million through the private placement in a follow-on offering of its equity securities. The financing was led by Remeditex Ventures, LLC, the Company’s largest shareholder, which agreed to purchase $5.0 million of the securities in the private placement.

Soliton sold an aggregate of 675,000 shares of the Company’s common stock at $14.00 per share. Each share was sold together with a warrant to purchase 0.7 shares of common stock. Each warrant has an exercise price of $16.00 per share. The warrants are exercisable on the effective date of the registration statement pursuant to which the resale of the shares of common stock underlying the warrants are registered and will have a term of five years from such date. The offering closed on June 19, 2019.

Soliton intends to use the net proceeds from the offering for working capital purposes. Roth Capital Partners acted as lead placement agent for the transaction. Boustead Securities and Maxim Group acted as co-placement agents. Boustead Securities served as Sole Underwriter for Soliton’s $10,862,955 Reg A+ Initial Public Offering on Nasdaq on February 19, 2019. This press release does not constitute an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy these securities, nor shall there be any sale of these securities in any jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to the registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such jurisdiction.

The securities sold in the offering have not been registered under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or state securities laws and may not be offered or sold in the United States absent registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission or an applicable exemption from such registration requirements. Soliton has agreed to file a registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission covering the resale of the shares of common stock, including the shares of common stock issuable upon exercise of the warrants, sold in the private placement. Soliton has agreed to file the registration statement no later than July 17, 2019. If any shares are unable to be included on the initial registration statement, Soliton has agreed to file subsequent registration statements until all the shares have been registered, and the registration rights agreement imposes certain customary cash penalties on Soliton for its failure to satisfy specified filing and effectiveness time periods.

Click here to read more

SOCi Launches Google My Business Posts Integration


New integration enables local businesses to efficiently manage a social marketing strategy on Google, enabling engagement with Google’s vast user base

SOCi, the leading platform for social media and reputation management for multi-location brands, announced a new Google Posts integration on its platform for Google My Business (GMB) pages. SOCi’s Google Posts integration enables its existing customers already using GMB to publish localized posts within the SOCi platform, rounding out SOCi’s integration with all major social networks and review sites. The integration allows businesses to reach and engage their local audiences through announcements, promotions of upcoming events, and special offers. These Google Posts appear on businesses GMB page, on the Google Knowledge Panel and in Google Maps, depending on which platform the consumer is using to find the local business.

Since launching five years ago, GMB pages have become the primary destination for consumers searching for local business information, as well as ratings and reviews. Outside of local business and review information, these pages are stacked with additional social-rich features that allow businesses to fully leverage their online presence by allowing regular interaction with consumers through features like Posts, Q&A, and the recently introduced Follow button. While more than 3.5 billion queries entered into Google’s search bar every day, these pages are becoming increasingly important as search results are moving more toward zero or no additional clicks. Today Google is becoming less a search engine and more a destination portal, providing information right on the search page from sources like GMB. In fact, 49% of all Google searches are no-click meaning it is important to own and effectively manage your Google pages for customers to get quick and accurate results.

“Each month, there are over 5B searches for restaurants, 3B for hotels, 1B for clothing stores, 600M for hair & beauty salons, and 5M for coffee shops on Google. At SOCi, we know that most purchase decisions begin with an online search and that the majority of engagement happens on local brand pages. Google Posts publishing is a critical component to any comprehensive local marketing strategy,” said Alo Sarv, Co-Founder, SOCi. “With this new tool, we’re thrilled to support our existing customer base already using Google My Business while also empowering those who are not yet taking advantage of this valuable platform to start doing so to help round out their localized social marketing strategies.”

A Google My Business Profile gives brands an important presence on Google Search and Maps, allowing them to respond to reviews and post photos of products or special offers. As Google’s business listings are getting smarter and more valuable, SOCi’s new Google Posts integration will help customers better manage these pages through timely updates and announcements with text, images, links, GIFs, and videos. This is particularly important since according to SOCi’s recent Local Search Marketing Benchmark Report, GMB is a key element in creating a comprehensive LSM strategy and businesses doing this well are growing revenue 3x faster than their peers.

These new Google Posts features will be available immediately for existing customers within SOCi’s Content Manager. SOCi is also offering SOCi Assist services, a service where SOCi content experts write and deploy GMB posts on the businesses behalf, for Google Posts to further assist leading brands and agencies.

Meet Bruno Serato of Anaheim White House Restaurant in Orange County

Bruno Serato

Today we’d like to introduce you to Bruno Serato.

Sir Bruno Serato arrived in the U.S. from his native Italy speaking no English with only $200 in his pocket. Through hard work and determination, he worked his way up from busboy to owner of the critically acclaimed Anaheim White House restaurant, whose patrons include U.S. Presidents, sports stars and celebrities. But it’s his work with children that has earned him an international reputation. Serato launched the nonprofit in 2005 after he and his mother, Caterina, visited a local Boys and Girls Club. There, they saw a seven-year-old boy eating a bag of potato chips and when she learned that the snack was all he had for dinner, she instructed her son to head back to the restaurant and feed the children pasta. Through Caterina’s Club, he has done so each day since and today feeds some 5,000 children daily. More than 2.9M million meals have been served so far and the need keeps growing. Caterina’s Club is currently serving 90 sites in 30 cities. His influence has extended far beyond Southern California to include Chicago, New York, Texas, Mexico, and Italy. He has extended his mission by moving these “motel families” into permanent housing.

While many of the families are working and able to pay the monthly rent for their own apartments, they cannot afford the first, last and security deposit required at the onset. He has already helped over 210 families escape motel living by finding them apartments of their own and their lives have improved considerably. His newest endeavor is working with the Anaheim Union High School District to establish the Hospitality Academy Program, which seeks to divert high school students from gangs and other bad influences by teaching them about the food, hospitality and service industries. The students receive hands-on experience and even paid internships in these areas so that they can explore careers in the field following graduation. Over 175 students have graduated from Chef Bruno’s Hospitality Academy.

For his humanitarian work, Serato has earned international publicity including profiles in People Magazine, “CBS Evening News” and newspapers and magazines the world over. Among his many honors is being named a CNN Hero, Ellis Island Medal of Honor Recipient, being knighted by the Italian government, receiving a papal blessing from Pope Francis, getting a humanitarian award on the steps of the U.S. Capitol, being honored by the Good News Foundation and receiving numerous proclamations, Man of the Year awards and other forms of recognition — all of which he accepts to generate public awareness of the needs of our most vulnerable population – our children. For more information, visit

Click here to read more

What’s Your Risk? The Realities of Business Earthquake Coverage

Earthquake hits office

The powerful 6.4 and 7.1 magnitude earthquakes that rocked Southern California on July 4th and 5th have many business owners thinking about earthquake insurance. Unfortunately, business earthquake coverage most likely isn’t included in your commercial property insurance – so if you aren’t paying for a specific earthquake insurance policy, then you probably aren’t protected for damages resulting from a seismic event.

Here are some important considerations to evaluate before deciding whether this type of coverage is right for you.

What Does Business Earthquake Insurance Cover?

Business earthquake coverage is designed to help you rebuild and recover after a devastating earthquake. Without it, you would be left with the financial burdens of repairing your building, replacing damaged inventory/equipment, continuing mortgage payments despite the loss of income, and, worst-case scenario, demolishing the structure completely.

Earthquake insurance can vary greatly, but here are some of the general coverages that are usually included:

  • Damage to structures, including direct damage and indirect damage (like flooding caused by sprinkler leakage).
  • Repair/replacement of business contents.
  • Loss of business income.
  • Improvements or repairs required by local ordinance or law.

Who Needs Earthquake Insurance?

According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the U.S. averages about 20,000 earthquakes each year. Most are small, but since 1990, at least some earthquake damage has been reported in all 50 states. To help property owners decide whether they need earthquake insurance, the USGS provides a list of considerations, which includes: proximity to active earthquake faults; seismic history of the region; building construction; geologic structure of the earth beneath; value of the building/contents; cost of the insurance; and restrictions on coverage.

Earthquake insurance can be expensive, so if you’d be able to fund your own recovery, then you may not need the coverage. However, some lenders will require coverage as part of a loan or mortgage.

What Else Do I Need to Know?

Your Deductible. Like health insurance, lower premiums most often mean higher deductibles. So, it’s important to understand what you’d be required to pay out-of-pocket before your business earthquake coverage starts providing support.

Probable Maximum Loss (PML) Report. For larger property risks, your insurance broker should get a PML report. The PML assessment provides a statistical estimate of the damage your property would likely experience based on certain risk tolerances.

Qualifying Requirements. Your property may need to undergo an inspection and
subsequently require upgrades before you can qualify for business earthquake
coverage. For example, you may need to have the structure bolted to its foundation or new braces installed on walls. Improving your property’s earthquake resistance can also help lower premiums.

We Can Help You Understand Your Business Earthquake Coverage Needs.

At Shank & Associates Insurance Services, we provide a unique perspective on all of your commercial coverage options, and we help to determine which carrier best fits your business needs. We strive to find you the broadest coverage at the best available rate. Give us a call to get started: (833) 878-2820.

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