December 29, 2019

New Year's resolution: Run more productive meetings in 2020

Companies large and small rely on meetings with staff and/or clients to communicate ideas, solve problems, and present initiatives. In fact, over 55 million meetings occur every day in America. Yet one in three meetings waste time, contributing to an estimated $37 billion squandered ever year due to unproductive meetings.

Businesses need to plan and conduct meetings carefully to ensure that goals are accomplished and desired outcomes are reached. This is easier said than done, of course. So for focused and specific strategies designed to steer meetings straight and maximize productivity, I asked three experts for their recommendations. Learn what they recommended by clicking here and reading one of my latest stories published by CO—, the US Chamber of Commerce's site devoted to helping small businesses.

December 23, 2019

Festive and flawless feast-making

You’ve decided to take one for the team and summon the entire clan over for dinner and festivities on December 24 or 25. The invite was the easy part. Now you’ve got to figure out how to balance what's on your menu with your family's preferences and palates.

But prepping, cooking and serving the Christmas meal doesn’t have to be a dreaded or frustrating endeavor. With the right planning, you can ace this banquet, sidestep the stress, and conquer the kitchen with culinary cleverness. This positive process starts with the right mindset. For tips, click here and read my newest piece for CTW Features.

December 14, 2019

Pay attention to this man behind the curtain

In Cineversary podcast episode #18, host Erik Martin talks with guest John Fricke, the world's foremost Oz historian and author of several books about The Wizard of Oz and Judy Garland. Erik and John honor the 80th anniversary of the most watched and arguably the most beloved film in history, "The Wizard of Oz," and explore why this masterwork is worth celebrating all these years later, its cultural impact and legacy, what we can learn from the picture today, how it has stood the test of time, and more.
John Fricke

To listen to this episode, click the "play button" on the embedded streaming player below. Or, you can stream, download or subscribe to the Cineversary podcast using Google Podcasts, Google Play Music, Apple Podcasts/iTunes, Anchor, Breaker, Castbox, Overcast, Pocket Casts, PodBean, RadioPublic, Spotify, Stitcher, and TuneIn.

Learn more about the Cineversary podcast at and email show comments or suggestions to

December 8, 2019

Seasonal centerpiece strategies

You’ve trimmed the tree, festooned the windows and bushes with lights, hung up your stockings with care, and strategically positioned the mistletoe up high. But there’s still one item waiting to be crossed off your Christmas prep checklist: Your holiday table.

Whether you plan to provide a festive feast on it or have it simply serve as a decorative focal point noticed by visitors, a handsomely appointed holiday table can make all the difference in December, the experts contend. Find out why and how by reading my article on this topic, published in The Daily Herald.

December 1, 2019

Low cred? Your mortgage dreams aren't dead

Comparison shopping can yield all kinds of bargains, whether it’s a car, groceries, gift, or other item you’re hunting for. And the same is true for mortgage financing. By getting quotes on interest rates and financing fees from different lenders, you’re more likely to score a deal. Now, new research suggests this is especially true for home buyers with less-than-stellar credit scores.

A recent report by Zillow found that those with poorer credit—particularly buyers with scores ranging from 620 to 679—experience more variation in rate quotes than those with better credit. In fact, the median spread for standard mortgage loans (excluding loans that require PMI, private mortgage insurance) was nearly 97 basis points vs. 109 basis points for VA loans and 86 basis points for jumbo loans. That means the rates for borrowers with poorer credit often ranged by around a full percentage point or more. Costlier markets like Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco had the widest gulf in rate quotes—probably due to a bigger share of quotes sought for jumbo loans.

The moral to this story? It’s worth your time to shop around for a mortgage loan, particularly if your credit score is less than 700. Learn more by reading my newest article for CTW Features, published in the Dallas Morning News, available here.