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The Martin Luther King housing projects in Harlem are less than a mile from the wealthiest zip code in America. The apartments along Fifth Avenue facing Central Park from 59th to 89th street sell for $3 million to $30 million. Agnes Gund, a banking heiress and president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art, lives in one of those apartments. Agnes is a renowned collector of modern art who recently surprised the art world by selling the Roy Lichtenstein masterpiece that long hung over the mantle in her Manhattan apartment for $162 million, one of the 15 highest prices ever paid for artwork. She then further shocked the nonprofit world by donating $100 million from the sale to create the Art for Justice Fund, which on its website calls itself a movement to end mass incarceration

Heroes Among Heroes - Watching the Aftermath in Texas and Florida

The devastation and wreckage of everyday lives left behind by Harvey and Irma is hard to imagine or visualize unless you’re on the ground in Texas or Florida. It’s in the big things like homes and schools and offices and stores and vehicles. It’s in the little things like pets and pictures and awards and diplomas and cozy chairs, favorite shoes and familiar cell phones that were daily refuge. Texans and Floridians driven into shelters are glad to be alive but are not sure who they are or where they belong. Overnight, their identity was mysteriously removed, and they can’t think beyond their next bite of food or available restful cot. They have no plans for tomorrow. They are not clear what tomorrow looks like. We furnish our everyday lives with things familiar (the stuff of our lives) that give us comfort and identity. Suddenly removed, we are left without context. We are traumatized and drift into post-traumatic-stress-syndrome without even realizing it.  


The Texans and Floridians driven into shelters are, for the most part, the elderly, the working class, the humble who can’t afford to lose a blade of grass.

The Brotherhood of Man

Too much negative news. The media trades in the sensational to achieve ratings and sell advertising. The constant negative bias, however, was making me angry and suspicious, so I started keeping a diary of the human behavior I was witnessing in my daily life. My Salvation, I realized, would be in noticing these little moments.


  • A jogger stops to help a homeless woman lift her shopping cart onto the curb.

The TAO of Social Work

FEAR is the social worker’s most formidable enemy. Vulnerable people at risk are the social worker’s constituents, and vulnerable people at risk are, of course, full of fear. Persistent fear always morphs into anger setting up a self-destructive spiral in the vulnerable. Whether working with a population of addicts, immigrants, children at risk, or the elderly, helping clients overcome fear is the first job of the social worker.

A Persistent Problem

Case workers are finding that alleviating immediate physical problems (hunger, homelessness, addiction, grinding poverty) does not change the self-destructive patterns that have been set-up in the vulnerable. The same clients return for assistance again and again. Self-destructive behavior patterns drive them right back into the arms of frustrated social workers. Now what?


Louis the XIV is a fifty-eight year old overweight skin-head biker with tats from head to toe who favors gold chains. That’s why they call him, Louis the XIV. He’s my sponsor.

I met him at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting in 1995, my first day out of rehab.

“What are you lookin at?” was the first thing he said to me.

I was only 16 years old and wearing khakis and a polo shirt. “I’m looking for a sponsor,” I replied in a shaky voice. “They told me I needed to find a sponsor right away.”

When Louis the XIV smiled at my remark his two gold incisors shined like headlights in a rear- view mirror. “You,” he began slowly with a note of scorn in his voice. “Want me” he added as a sort of afterthought. “To be,” he said dragging out the word “be” like “beee”. “Your what?” he concluded, cocking a multi-pierced ear in my direction.

Let's Go Cuba 2.0

Last year, after President Obama relaxed travel restrictions to Cuba, this blog began to research incentive travel opportunities to the mysterious island 90 miles off our coast. Like many American travelers, incentive groups were captivated by Cuba’s promise of something new and different. Americans have been prohibited from traveling to Cuba since 1963, so curiosity alone has intensified the allure of our neighbor to the South.

Last Year

After extensive research, we concluded last year that although Cuba presented a colorful and entertaining culture, wonderful food, rhythmic music and dance, intricate history, soothing climate, natural wonders, and a curiously “stuck-in-time” joyful population, it still had a long way to go 

It's Not What You Know... It's WHO You Know

Event Attendance

Competition for event attendance continues to heat up. Planners are charged with improving attendance year after year in a highly competitive event marketplace where it seems like more events are vying for attention every day. The pressure to include the latest innovation, to locate in a trendy location, to present A-list entertainment, and to offer gluten-free, farm-to-table, organic, low carb, vegetarian, pescatarian, low-cal culinary fare has never been more intense. However, recent research into what factors have the greatest effect on attendance indicates that influencers have a greater impact on attendance than any of the factors listed above.


People do business with people they trust. This mantra has been part of the planner’s lexicon for many years. 

Letting the Air Out of Airbnb


  • Ten years ago, Steve Jobs introduced the IPhone and, as he predicted, changed the world. The original device looks almost “cute” alongside the powerhouse cell phones we all use today, but it was a mighty disrupter that upended the music and publishing businesses forever. It even introduced the word disruption to business discourse.
  • Then Travis Kalanick imagined fellow citizens offering each other a lift and Uber disrupted the transportation industry reducing the word “taxi” to an historical reference.
  • After dealing a knock-out punch to the publishing and bookstore industries, Jeff Bezos unleashed Amazon on retailing and mighty department store chains like Macy’s and JC Penney’s could feel the ground give way under their brick and mortar retail palaces.
  • In 2007 Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia decided to blow up an air mattress and rent it out in their apartment in San Francisco to help pay the rent. When Nathan Belcharczyk showed them how to utilize the new IPhone and internet powerhouse combo to turn their air mattress into a business, Airbnb was born and the travel industry was put on notice.

How to Keep Them Coming

Premier Meeting Services collaborates with Athena Education Group, LLC, as the continuing medical education provider to plan, develop, and implement live CME conferences, meetings, and symposia at the local, regional, national, and international levels. Over the years, our main challenge has been to keep medical education meetings up-to-date and attractive to an often repeating but ever-evolving audience of medical professionals.

  • The Baby-Boomers in the audience who have been to many CME programs are “old-pros” who attend for very different reasons than their younger millennial colleagues. Often senior practitioners come to network with old friends, recruit employees, and find out “what’s new”.
  • The Millennials, on the other hand, come not only to learn but often to find a job, make new friends, and develop a feeling of belonging to their professional practice group.

No More Mom and Pop

The meeting and event planning industry was started by “solopreneurs” (entrepreneurs who strike out on their own) who started their careers as “frienders” (a creative friend who ends up your wedding planner). They are the rare creative people who are also well organized. They learn the event planning business working for you and then naturally strike out on their own, just like you did. The industry is populated by small to medium sized planning agencies started by “solopreneurs” that have thrived as the event planning marketplace has boomed out in front of them.


The explosion of the meeting and event market these past eight years has attracted competition from the big Madison Avenue advertising firms. Until recently, they were content to handle digital and traditional media