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Ad campaign that lived in ink-famy

One day, when I led an in-house agency for The Charlotte Observer, the publisher decided the newspaper needed a new slogan. There was only one problem: enduring slogans were often invented by agencies and The Observer was too cheap for that.

So I bought coffee and doughnuts and gathered my staff of creative artists and writers into a conference room for a brainstorming session. You never knew where one of these wandering pursuits of excellence would lead, but one thing was certain: No one could leave until we came up with a new slogan – disastrous as it might turn out.

So began a two-hour session that produced nothing of note, until one employee in the back of the room muttered the immortal words: “The Charlotte Observer: It Rubs Off on You.” There was stunned silence in the room. Then it hit us all at once. You could see the smiles of realization open up across the room in one big wave. We were tired and if we voted yes on this slogan, we could all go home and drink beer.

For the stunning debut of our new slogan our designers produced full-page ads about how wonderful our award-winning reporters were and about how no one in their right mind would leave the house each morning before digesting every page of the daily product that we so proudly produced and placed carefully at their front doors.

At the bottom we added our new slogan. But the designers weren’t satisfied with just words. They liked pictures. So in case our readers didn’t pick up the double-meaning of this brilliant slogan, they added a little thumbprint next to the words and had a little smear mark of ink trailing off to the right.

Oh we were good, weren’t we? Brilliant, we presumed. We scheduled a couple of ads in the morning paper and let these babies fly. The next morning I cruised with confidence to my desk and – whoa – what was this? A note to come see the publisher and editor immediately.

They hated it. As did the production manager who was so proud of his new press that supposedly had less ink-rub-off than the previous model (it didn’t). As did the circulation manager who wanted our campaign to sell more papers (it wouldn’t). There was an emergency meeting of all the newspaper powers that day and after a heated session, the publisher cast the deciding vote: (inky) thumbs down.

The ad campaign was dead. Our faces were red. Our hearts were crushed, but our directive was the same: Come up with a slogan, stupid. So we met again, came up with something innocuous that pleased all and remains wonderfully forgettable to this day. Unfortunately, the other one lived long after.

In fact, the newsroom got the last word (it always does). Eight months later, on New Years Eve, in the paper’s annual retrospective of “The Best and Worst of Charlotte” we won special recognition. Our rub-off slogan was awarded worst advertising campaign of the year.

A few years later, I picked up a newspaper here in Atlanta and saw it proudly boasting a new slogan: It Rubs Off on Your Mind, Not on Your Hands. I wondered if they paid an advertising agency a lot of money to come up with it. And if their publisher saw it before it went out.

Chris Schroder, The 100 Companies

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The Importance of Giving Back — A Catalyst for Positive Change

The Importance of Giving Back — A Catalyst for Positive Change

Nestled into the Santa Cruz Valley of Southern Arizona, the Ak-Chin Indian Community is 35 miles south of Phoenix in the northwestern part of Pinal County. The Community is steadfast in its efforts to preserve its culture, language, and traditions — not just for themselves, but also to impact neighboring communities and the world positively.

In 1988, when the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act — paving the way for the country’s Native American communities to operate casino-style gaming on tribal lands — the Ak-Chin Tribal Council looked at the many benefits that were possible as a result of Indian Gaming.

The opportunity for economic self-sufficiency and secure financial resources to invest in infrastructure and social services programs for tribal members were of utmost importance.

Recognizing the Community’s location and wanting the best opportunity for success, the Ak-Chin Tribal Council sought a management partner that would work alongside tribal leaders to build and grow a successful gaming enterprise.

“We chose to partner with Harrah’s, part of Caesars Entertainment,” says Ak-Chin Indian Community Chairman Robert Miguel. “Their long and successful history managing quality gaming and entertainment venues and their commitment to work alongside our tribal leaders and invest with us were deciding factors. Now, more than 25 years later, we continue to reap the benefits of this very successful partnership.”

Over the past 25 years, as the Casino has expanded to include 529 guestrooms, a variety of dining experiences, a spa, and fitness center, and an events center, one thing has remained the same — Harrah’s continues to invest in the community through a host of activities both on-property and within the tribal community as well.

One such program is  Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino HERO Program. The goal of HERO is to strengthen organizations and programs in the communities where employees and their families live and work. The employee-based volunteer program enables Harrah’s staff and their families to make noteworthy and visible contributions to the community by donating their time, skills, expertise, and compassion to dozens of volunteer projects throughout the community. In addition, the HERO Committee funnels in-kind and monetary donations ($50,000 in 2020) into the community.

Despite the pandemic and decreased in-person volunteer opportunities, 90 percent of Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino employees still volunteered more than 9,000 hours to such organizations as Sun Lakes Lions Foundation; Maricopa Lions Club; Casa Grande Roller Derby; Maricopa Police Foundation; American Cancer Society-Maricopa Relay for Life; HHHOHP Stand Down for Veterans; United Services Blood Drive; Area Agency on Aging; Pat Tillman Foundation; F.O.R. Maricopa Food Drive; Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; Maricopa Against Abuse; United Way of Pinal County; and Feed My Starving Children.

As the largest employer in Pinal County, Harrah’s Ak-Chin employs nearly 1,000 people, tribal and non-tribal. They also have the Harrah’s Development System (H.D.S.), a program for members of the Ak-Chin Indian Community to be integrated into key areas of the casino operation, with the goal of long-term employment opportunities.

The goal of H.D.S. is to encourage economic self-sufficiency by providing employment opportunities for tribal members. Here’s how the program works:

  • Community members apply for the program, and a “class” begins the program, which lasts one to two years.
  • Community members spend their time in the program working all aspects of the resort, from washing dishes to doing income control audits. They spend about a week in each position to give each H.D.S. associate a chance to find their best fit. They receive compensation throughout the program.
  • Should they choose, they are guaranteed employment at the successful conclusion of the program.

To date, there have been more than 60 participants since the program began in 1997.

“Employment opportunities for tribal members are key to achieving financial independence,” said Chairman Miguel. “Participation in the H.D.S. program provides them tremendous opportunities to learn the gaming and hospitality business.”

The Ak-Chin Indian Community had deep roots in farming and agriculture.

Protecting and sustaining the land, air, and water is part of the fabric of the Community. Harrah’s takes that pledge enormously as well and regularly supports the company’s  Code Green Program. Code Green’s sustainability programs are focused on reducing the property’s carbon footprint, energy and water consumption and recycling. They also support civic programs vital to the Maricopa community’s success, including organizations involved with education, children and families, adults, the environment, health care and the arts.

– Michael Kintner,  Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino

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Holiday Season Brings Out the Best in Us

Holiday Season Brings Out the Best in Us

What does it mean to be a servant-leader? A servant-leader focuses on the growth and well-being of individuals and the communities to which they belong. Servant leadership, in my view, applies not only to the individual but organizations as well, as we all have a responsibility to invest in our communities. To be a good leader, you must serve first.

As the holidays approach, we pay tribute to some of the businesses, foundations and non-profit organizations that are serving our community. Whether through financial support or providing important social services programs, we are grateful for the important role they play.

– Abbie S. Fink, HMA Public Relations

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Meet the Arizona Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors

Arizona Restaurant Association’s Board of Directors

The Arizona Restaurant Association is led by a board of directors that includes over 20 industry leaders, including:

Brian Barton, Sysco; Louis Basile, Jr., Wildflower Bread Company; Ron Blacic, Ecolab; Beth Cochran, Snooze; Joe Cotroneo, Crescent Crown; Justin Cohen, Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row; Jose Esparza, Southwest Gas; Bobby Fitzgerald, Slatebridge Restaurant Group; Scott Friedman, Firezona; Josh Hebert, Hot Noodles Cold Sake; Ryan Hibbert, Riot Hospitality; Josh Jacobsen, Lucky Wishbone; Stephen Roussel, The Capital Grille; Wendy Sanuik, Coca-Cola; Thomas Smeriglio, Heartland Payment Systems; Bill Stafford, Shamrock Foods; Jamie Thousand, Satchmo’s; Ross Vogt, Taco Bell; and Steve Zabilski, St. Vincent de Paul.

The Arizona Restaurant Association reports

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Meet the Arizona Restaurant Association’s Executive Committee

Arizona Restaurant Association’s Executive Committee

The Arizona Restaurant Association’s board of directors is led each year by a five-person executive committee. Currently, the committee is chaired by Alicia Casale, a local attorney whose practice primarily centers on business and commercial transactional matters, including extensive work with restaurants and bars. Casale serves as general counsel for several restaurants.

Joe Johnston, owner of Joe’s Real BBQ, Agritopia, Joe’s Farm Grill and Liberty Market, is both the immediate past-chair and the current head of the organization’s education foundation. Joining Casale and Johnston on the executive committee are Vice Chair Kristina Hogan, Treasurer Angelina Galaviz and Secretary Raveen Arora.

The Arizona Restaurant Association reports

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Arizona Restaurant Association Provides Reopening Recommendations for Restaurants

Reopening Recommendations for Restaurants

In May 2020, the Arizona Restaurant Association launched Welcome Back to the Table, which provides reopening guidance intended to help restaurants.

The program is meant to ensure the utmost safety and health of diners, as well as direct teams on more technical issues such as safely restarting kitchen equipment and staffing. Additionally, it includes guidelines restaurants are expected to follow from the State of Arizona. The recommendations under the program include maintaining social distancing by following restrictions in compliance with CDC guidelines and limiting the number of people in any dining party to no more than 10 at any time.

Technology should also be employed to decrease the number of patrons waiting in or near the establishment. In addition, further sanitation methods should be considered, including finding new ways to handle menus and the order process that moves away from traditional reusable menus, and employing options to decrease menu touch points through technology and other solutions, the release states. These include recommending diners view menus on their phones, placing menu boards throughout the restaurant, offering single-use menus that are to be discarded after every use, or sanitizing easily cleanable (such as fully laminated) menus after each use. Restaurants will also need to sanitize customer areas — including tables/tablecloths, chairs/booth seating, all door handles, any other surfaces a customer has likely touched — after each sitting with EPA-registered disinfectant, the release states.

The Arizona Restaurant Association reports

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National Restaurant Association Resources and Federal Guidance

To ensure that restaurants have the latest information about COVID-19, the National Restaurant Association has developed industry-specific guidance for owners and operators.

Available here, the guidance reports that there is no report from CDC that food is a source of the virus. It also goes into great detail on masks; sanitation protocols; provides links to the most up-to-date lists of effective disinfectants; temperature checks and screenings; protocol in the event an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19 or thinks they have it; business continuity plans from a food supply standpoint; and best practices to keep both restaurant patrons and employees safe. 

The Arizona Restaurant Association reports 

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Two Things Every Leader Should Live By

Two things every leader should live by

Quality leadership can make or break an organization. Leaders have the power to alter the company culture and productivity either positively or negatively. So how can leaders ensure they’re elevating their team morale?

Lead by example: Subordinates respond better to leaders who are willing to work themselves, as opposed to simply being a boss. Employees strive to work harder when they feel like management is working equally as hard.

Appreciate your employees: Employees who feel valued and appreciated outperform those who feel like they’re being taken advantage of. Some leaders enact rewards systems that help motivate employees and show appreciation.

Colton Basks, The Oklahoma 100

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Leadership development: Investing or just spending?

You spend money on a nice dinner; you invest in your retirement.

What’s the difference when it comes to leadership?

A system that ensures you’ll have leaders growing within your business, contributing more, developing stronger teams and driving engagement – that’s investment. Spending is when you find a training program that will create some good will in the short run, but, like the dinner, its value is gone. Developing leaders is among the most important success factors for any business. The decisions they make and the culture they create has more impact on sustainable business success than almost anything else. 

– Randy Hall, 4th Gear Consulting

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Phoenix philanthropist donates $5 million to invest in future of medicine in Arizona


Doris Norton donated $5 million to Creighton University and Dignity Health St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center.

Of Norton’s gift, $3 million will support development of Creighton’s HealthSciences – Phoenix Campus, a 180,000-square foot building opening in 2021 to serve nearly 900 students. The remaining $2 million will be allocated to St. Joseph’s endowment scholarships for Creighton students entering the nursing field.

Arizona faces a boom in population and shortfall in medical professionals. Creighton will help the state confront these challenges through expanded education, invigorating Arizona’s health care infrastructure with physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physician assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists and more.

– Father Daniel Hendrickson, Creighton University