Neil A. Carousso produces and co-hosts WCBS Newsradio 880’s Small Business Spotlight series with Joe Connolly. Click here to watch the weekly video segments featuring advice for business owners on survival, recovery and growth opportunities.

    Interview

  • 3 Ways to Transform Your Toxic Workplace into a Healthy and Heart Centered Organization

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    Hear from a world leading psychologist on how we can change leadership one heart at a time.

    By Ana Reed, Founder and CEO of Newmanity, Inc.

    Produced and edited by Carousso Enterprises, LLC.

    As seen in

    The great resignation is teaching us that toxic workplaces will no longer be tolerated. As companies struggle to manage and retain talent, a greater microscope is needed towards creating healthier and more meaningful workplace cultures while ensuring behaviors are aligned to more wholesome ways of working. 

    Dr. George Simon, a world-renowned psychologist with expertise in personality and character development, rightfully claims that “behavior doesn’t change until hearts change.” These are wise and important words for companies that must now focus less on creating corporate cultural initiatives and more on role modeling and demonstrating leadership behaviors that are authentic, meaningful, and reaching the hearts of people.

    After speaking to Dr Simon, we discovered many simple but important lessons for leaders looking to rid their organization of toxicity, and create a culture that is meaningful and heart-connected. Here are 3 ways that leaders can learn to transform their cultures:

    Create a purpose that connects to the heart of the organization

    Dr. Simon states in his first commandment, “We are not the center of the universe. Everything is connected and we are all part of something much bigger than you can possibly imagine, so be mindful of how you, your yearnings, and aspirations and most especially, your behavior, impact everyone and everything else that exists.” For far too long, we have seen major corporations and their executives make their personal desires, aspirations and yearnings central to the ways of working within the company. We have reached a point where this is no longer being tolerated, and organizations must find genuine and authentic ways to create a purpose that is meaningful.  When creating a company purpose, it needs to be less of a head exercise, and more of meaningful heart exercise, and most importantly, it needs to connect to the heart of the company.

    Build “loving” mindsets and behaviors 

    Dr. Simon believes that there is a dynamic relationship between culture and character and with impaired character populations eroding norms and traditions designed to foster character. This has resulted in what he refers to as “sick” cultures, which consequently produce more character disturbing behaviors. He also makes it clear that “love” is an action word, so it is with hearts and loving behavior that we can fix toxic culture. If leaders can exhibit mindful, loving behavior – even in small amounts – this can gradually change a heart and inspire and reinforce all positive behaviors. It’s a positive and energizing cycle and the perfect antidote to the negative culture character vicious cycle that’s been churning for so long in organizations everywhere.

    Leading from an open and humbled heart

    There is a a Sioux Indian saying that says, “The longest journey you will make in your life is from your head to your heart.” All too often, people in positions of leadership hide behind their expertise and strong opinions, often, failing to reveal themselves and the values they stand for. According to Dr Simon, leading from the heart is easier said than done. So many hearts today are hardened, jaded and full of unresolved emotions.  It takes an awakened leader to truly lead from the heart humbly, thoroughly explored and therefore intimately connected and dedicated to a higher and noble purpose.  If organizations are to be truly authentic and connected, leaders must be willing to embark on the long and sometimes painful journey of not always leading from their heads, but being courageous enough to lead from their open and humbled hearts. 

    If your company is serious about creating a thriving culture, free from negativity and toxicity, then there needs to be an invitation for leaders to genuinely express their truth, lead from their hearts and learn to build loving behaviors and mindsets that will create a generative and energizing force within the organization towards greater meaning and impact.

    Ana Reed is the CEO and Founder of Newmanity, a leadership consultancy focused on building human centered companies. Together with New York City-based production company Carousso Enterprises, LLC., which is owned and operated by award-winning journalist Neil A. Carousso, Ana is engaged in creating content around leadership, human performance and CEO best practice. To receive insider access to Newmanity’s exclusive content, email hello@newmanity.co.

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  • Westchester Entrepreneur’s Pandemic Pivot from Events to Moving Becomes Second Growing Business

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    By Neil A. Carousso and Joe Connolly

    WESTCHESTER, NY (WCBS 880) — Many business owners pivoted during the pandemic from areas hit hard by COVID-19 into adjacent services that were in need. But, this entrepreneur is running two businesses that seem completely unrelated: events and moving.

    Andrew Abatemarco is the co-owner of Jennifer Gould Luxe Event Design, which provides decor for high-end weddings and bar and bat mitzvahs across Westchester, Connecticut and at homes in the Hamptons. When the pandemic hit and events were halted, he got calls from his brother and an employee to help them move using the company’s trucks. That is when he saw the opportunity to start a whole new business he named A La Carting, a moving concierge.

    “It was such a natural progression because here I am moving in all this decor-related stuff: furniture, florals, acrylic plastic centerpieces for the theatrical tables, installing lighting, ceiling treatments,”  said Abatemarco on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank. “And basically, I said, my guys can do all this.”

    Abatemarco already owned the trucks and he has a background in both logistics and sales.

    “I knew a moving company that actually helps us and still does in the event space. So, I knew a little bit about it and I saw how it could be a profitable business if you work hard,” he said.

    “You have to be somewhat of a people’s person, because there’s a lot of emotions in moving. People, you know, when they move, it’s very, very emotional just like the event world.”

    Abatemarco told WCBS 880 the added value A La Carting offers is the manpower and licenses to be a one-stop-shop for moving everything from light fixtures to gym equipment.

    He made the successful pivot with the help of a program offered by the Westchester County Office of Economic Development called Launch1000 that helps 1,000 residents start a business and test market their products and services. Launch1000 was established in 2020 during the height of the pandemic.

    “Basically, it just got you from A to Z, in a short period of time, de-risking your business opportunity so you don’t have to go out-of-pocket and spend money,” said Abatemarco. “It was like business school 101 and 102 combined.”

    The entrepreneur earned a $2,500 grant from Westchester County for graduating from Launch1000. The county also gave $2,500 grants to businesses that earned revenue during the program.

    Abatemarco said his son and daughter were inspired by watching him take the idea-accelerator while growing A La Carting and continuing to operate Jennifer Gould Luxe Event Design, which is now seeing pent-up demand ahead of the summer. His son is currently pursuing a business degree at the University of Florida.

    “He’s talking to me about some of the classes and he remembers my experiences being on Launch1000 through Westchester. And it’s like, he just enjoys talking to me about what it’s like to launch a business.”

    Watch the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above for sales advice and ideas for adding value to your business.

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  • Inside the Marketing Genius of Flag & Anthem

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    By Neil A. Carousso and Joe Connolly

    NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Flag & Anthem’s digital prowess has turned it into a multi-million dollar brand in just six years.

    Creative content and brand partnerships with country music star Dierks Bentley and Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey help fuel the clothing company’s growth.

    “We’re able to schedule quarterly photo shoots with each of our ambassadors whether it’s Dierks or Christian,” said Flag & Anthem co-founder and chief executive officer Brad Gartman on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.

    “We have a creative team that comes up with some really kitschy ideas in the way of content that really draws engagement and we see the difference in the conversion. From a business standpoint and an e-commerce standpoint, it’s night and day versus if you’re just, you know, a still photo and a plaid shirt,” he said.

    Gartman spent the better part of two decades working as a buyer and executive, first, with Lord & Taylor, and then, Macy’s before he and his co-founder Azod Mohit left to start Flag & Anthem, which they launched in 2016.

    While they sourced clothes overseas and developed their digital marketing infrastructure, Gartman and Mohit had the foresight to be diversified.

    “I think the positioning and omnichannel abilities is really, that’s where the future is going,” explained Gartman. “We went to a conference a couple of weeks ago with a lot of direct-to-consumer native brands who are kind of going, now, more wholesale.”

    Flag & Anthem experienced rapid digital growth during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, but now, that trend is somewhat reversing due to increasing costs of digital advertisements and changing social media algorithms.

    Country music festivals this summer will be a major play in its mostly direct-to-consumer model. But, Gartman told WCBS 880 that they’ve been flexible enough to be able to pivot their sales strategies depending on the business climate.

    He describes Flag & Anthem’s brand as not too ordinary but not unaffordable, or, as he put it, “unreachable.”

    “The design has an element of trend, but it’s not over-designed,” said Gartman. “We’re offering that same level of detail and quality and everything (as larger and more expensive clothing brands), but at 25 to 30 percent less than many of those brands.”

    Flag & Anthem recently launched a line of golf attire, which they anticipate will be major sellers this spring and summer season along with graphic t-shirts and shorts.

    See what’s behind Flag & Anthem’s marketing that has supported its rapid growth on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.

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  • Child Care Centers Struggle to Find Staff as Kids Return

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    By Neil A. Carousso and Joe Connolly

    BROOKLYN, N.Y. (WCBS 880) — Child care centers are playing a critical role in the economic recovery for working parents, but many are facing staff shortages.

    Enrollment at all six locations of Eladia’s Kids in Brooklyn is almost at pre-pandemic levels, but finding board-certified teachers has been difficult.

    “I had challenges hiring because for our school, the teacher had to have a B.A. in early childhood or a master(‘s) in early childhood, and also, they had to be certified by the State of New York,” explained Eladia Causil-Rodriguez of Eladia’s Kids on the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank.

    Causil-Rodriguez employs teachers for math and science lessons and other staff to facilitate the social outlet children desperately need after two years in the COVID-19 pandemic. She told WCBS 880 she has had to raise wages to fill open positions, which will force them to raise tuition.

    “(Parents) need the child care because they cannot be with the child at home at work,” said Causil-Rodriguez of how child care has changed with the adoption of remote work.

    She said more parents have been sending their kids back to day care in recent months, despite COVID concerns, recognizing they cannot give their children full attention during the work day. Eladia’s Kids requires proof of vaccination among staff and eligible kids and deploys a rigorous cleaning regimen on all surfaces.

    The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce board member noted some key pivots she made to survive the pandemic, including “video classes” when parents were only allowed to drop-off their kids while remaining socially distanced.

    “(The parents) could see how they were jumping in the bed, going to get the toy, all that kind of thing. It was really cute.”

    Causil-Rodriguez was born and raised in Colombia. She is the youngest of 12 children and a mother of four. While teaching, she saw the need for child care services in other families and she offered to babysit and teach their kids. What started out as a small group became Eladia’s Kids.

    “People might think that it’s not a glamorous job; it is for me,” she beamed. “Being a teacher, I think that if I can make a difference in the world of a child, I can make a difference forever.”

    Eladia said she’s a child at heart and her day care center keeps her feeling young, but she is also a smart businesswoman. When she went to open her first location in Park Slope, she told the Small Business Spotlight, she presented her business plan for Eladia’s Kids to the building manager. Causil-Rodriguez said he told her, “I want to help you, but one day you want to be the one telling everybody what to do.”

    “That was it. That was the start,” she said.

    Watch the WCBS Small Business Spotlight video above.

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  • Small Business Comeback Tour: Manny Stone Decorators

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    By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso

    MANALAPAN, N.J. (WCBS 880) — This hard-hit business is making a comeback thanks to multiple pivots.

    Manny Stone Decorators creates trade show booths for conventions at the Jacob Javits Center and other local sites. Running the business the last two years has been an “acrobatic act” for second-generation president Lloyd Stone.

    “I decided I need to either prepare to go out of business or prepare for the new normal. And it was a parallel route,” said Stone on the WCBS Small Business Comeback Tour, sponsored by PSE&G.

    He downsized his production studio, and from there, Stone transformed his operations from custom-made booths to prefabricated ones.

    “I call them ‘booth in a box,'” he said.

    The “booth in a box” includes instructions, prefabricated materials and a floor plan. Stone also makes himself available to FaceTime his clients from the convention center.

    “I would give them virtual direction by seeing how they’re doing it and instructing them on what the priority should be on how to fabricate things.”

    Manny Stone Decorators, founded by Stone’s father Manny, has created booths for S’well, Mac Duggal, Micro Wheels and other popular brands.

    “My whole concept is, ‘We will get you going. We’ll get you noticed,'” said Stone.

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