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Dave Masterson's thoughts on technology happenings, personal experiences, travels, work, fun, etc.


The Vocabulary Wheel? 

I loved this! For anyone that writes articles or makes frequent posts to social media - this will help. How many times can you portray a similar feeling with different words? For just such instances, we have the vocabulary wheel...




Grammarly wins.

How overdue is this for a tool YOU WILL USE every day? A quick download of Grammarly as a plug-in for your browser gives you the best proofreading system ever. It works on PC versions of MS Word and Outlook, not on Mac versions of MS Word as of yet. It's free, with an option to pay for more advanced critiquing of your writing available in the pay per month membership model.

I installed Grammarly as a plug-in for Chrome browser. I have a free account, so I can login from my PC at home or MacBook anywhere else. It quickly spell checks and analyzes the grammar validity of my musings. It checks for punctuation, wordiness, tense, use of colloquial phrases and more. It claims to learn your writing style, I haven't been on Grammarly long enough to see or benefit from any of this, but exciting if it's true. 

Once on their system, you can type in Outlook, in your browser (Think long Facebook posts...) or cut and paste your writing into their window on their site for the corrective process to take effect. I do read many online articles each day, it's such a relief to know tools like this are available to assist those who don't write well and remain as a nice reminder of "the rules" if you are more involved with online publishing.
Have a look, let Grammarly surprise you with corrections and suggestions you wouldn't get from regular old Microsoft spell check. Wordpress postings, Twitter, whatever you do, Grammarly can help sharpen your message. At the very least, it will keep you clear of producing and sharing embarrassing grammar and spelling mistakes with the world!




Regardless of your faith leanings, this guy is impressive! In recent speeches, he refutes centuries of closed-mindedness on behalf of the Catholic Church by stating that the longstanding theory of evolution has merit and is real! (Story here). Now, in the wake of radical Islamic terrorism feats in Paris, Australia and Africa, Pope Francis comments on security warnings and threats to his safety as he travels to the Pacific Rim this week...

"I am in God's hands," he said, joking about having asked God to spare him a painful death.

"Am I afraid? You know that I have a defect, a nice of dose of being careless. If anything should happen to me, I have told the Lord, I ask you only to give me the grace that it doesn't hurt because I am not courageous when confronted with pain. I am very timid," he said.

Count me among your fans, Your Holiness!



Guidebook - The event app

This year's World Expo saw us again partnering with Guidebook, a rapid development application for meetings and events. Each attendee was encouraged to download the app (free) on any mobile device. We filled our Guidebook with everything we could about our event. And kept it updated as events changed, notifying attendees of these changes via "push" messages they could on their devices.Guidebook is a universal app that you feed your information. This means that you will find your event in a searchable list once you get the Guidebook base app on your device. You'll also see many events to download that aren't yours, unless the administrator of that event deems their info is private, in which case they require a passcode to download. The colorful touch-sensitive screens are attractive and easy to use without a tutorial or lesson. Here's what ours looked like in May for World Expo...

 The app for Expo had the following categories -

General Expo Information - These were things that were pertinent to all attendees, i.e. our CEO Ray's Welcome Message, our keynote speaker's bio, Awards Dinner, our Dance Party details, etc.

Master Schedule - The itineraries for all 6 of our franchise brands were kept here. All of the event and location information was stored here, on a Master Schedule of the entire World Expo's activities. When a user selected a particular brand's itinerary, the app sorted just that information to display, all taken from this complete schedule listing.

Franchisee Schedule Tracks - This is the Master Schedule deliniated into our 6 brands.

Exhibitor Itinerary - This is information on the trade show, lunches and the Vendor Appreciation event we host between the two days of the trade show.

Maps - Very handy feature showing maps of the hotel and meeting space. These maps come to life when you take the time to locate each room you are using inside of the Itineraries.

Orlando - We had a "Things to do around town section with entertainment and dining tips.

Sponsors - Recognition and web links to the high-dollar sponsors of our event.

Photo Album - Collaborative photo collection bucket for anyone's Expo.

Suppliers and Booths - Probably one of the most popular links, full listing of all suppliers alphabetically with good search tool.



Very helpful were the Metrics that we as Admins could access thru the main Guidebook web portal. This gave us up to the minute details on Total number of app downloads, Number of updates and listings of user platforms. We could, from inside the Admin portal, issue updates, make changes, cancel adn add events and allow users to PUSH them to their devices. Each update afforded us the opportunity to name and describe the update and its significance. This was helpful one evening as rain moved a planned poolside event into a ballroom. Without panicking, we made the change in Guidebook, issued an update, and notified attendees that were probably in their rooms getting ready, or at the bar waiting for a meetup of friends! 

This was our second time using Guidebook. Our app had to be a winner, not only because we had 800+ attendess, but some of them are event and meeting planners themselves! ( Guidebook is a very easy tool to use - we began populating our version less than a week before our event. Our attendees liked the interaction with the app, so we'll defintiely be employing event-specific mobile apps at our future Expos. Guidebook would be a good choice in my opinion...





World Expo 2014 - The Insider's View.

Orlando, FL - "I cannot believe every single franchisee doesn't come to this event." ~ Mark, Appleton, WI.  

Me neither! If you could surround yourself with the best advice possible for your business, custom delivered to you, I say do it. Get to World Expo.

This year's return to the familiar Orlando World Center Marriott made planning the event a bit easier. We knew the convention space, where we could hold our sessions and how to decorate the rooms and manage the signage. The General Session Opening was very well done, Ray and franchisees from our different brands laying down the theme of "Entrepreneur Experience." Involving franchisees to be the "meat" or main content of the Expo was key. It's not about us reiterating what was taught in training class. We have so many really qualified people in their own businesses, who better to tell the story?

Our Wednesday evening opening reception was moved late in the day because of lightning on the pool. We knew by 7pm there would be no significant weather in the area, but with setup time 2-3 hours before, the lightning warning system from the golf course was firing off. This meant that no Marriott personnel could be working outside helping prepare for the reception. A quick decision to hold it in the Cypress Ballroom was made. That worked, but it wasn't as impactful as the outdoor venue would have been. It's great to reconnect with everyone at the first gathering for Expo!

With Maggie HarlowMaggie Harlow opened the Expo. Yes, the first person anyone saw on stage was our very personanble, successful, dual-brand franchisee from Louisville, KY., how awesome! She told her story in an abbreviated fashion, then introduced Ray. He stepped through some topics that were informative for all franchise brands. He reveiwed our company's Mission Statement and core beliefs. Next, as I previously mentioned, Ray used franchisees from several brands and countries to bring the attendees in tune with our theme. It was a great start to Day #1.

Our six unique business brands were then sent in several directions. The retail brands went to the Supplier Trade Show. The non-retail brands began their general content sessions, each in a different room. The schedule was packed - guest speakers, franchisee-led sessions, panel discussions, we had it all going.

For the trade show attendees, there were many new products, ideas, opportunities for training and networking. One franchisee I spoke with said it was the best trade show he has attended at our Expo, and he's been to all of our shows since 2005. The floor was packed with all exhibitor space sold. New additions were exhibitors for SuperGreen Solutions, Transworld Business Advisors and Experimac. Signarama and EmbroidMe Marketing Funds were both well represented in a spot on the floor that was crowded for two straight days! Lunch was served for all in the Exhibit Hall, so it was a popular place to be for Days #1 & #2.

Matt Fitzpatrick, myself, Lisa Royer, Leslie LaLandeOur Supplier Appreciation cocktail event followed, this was well-attended and everyone spent more time mingling and connecting to the sponsors and suppliers. I was part of the Mentor Chairperson Dinner later that evening, a nice meal and chance to meet in a quiet place with some of the franchisees that donate their time to help others.

Friday night we had our "social side" showing - the Pajama Dance Party! Bring together our crowd under a dress-up theme and we guarantee a memorable event. Most people had some sort of sleepwear or a strange interpretation of goofy pajamas. The DJ, a pro from Downtown Disney, really kept things on track as most of the evening was spent dancing and singing to familiar modern and classic tunes. Confession, I never got to try the ice cream bar with all the toppings. Too many people were lit up happy and partying beneath the flashing lights. Attendees were playing with inflatable instruments, lip syncing or "silhouette dancing" backstage for all to see. It was a neat and well appreciated event!

Saturday's schedule started with Jim Tatem interacting with a few more franchisees. Hearing about the growth and "How I made my business fly" stories is always inspiring. SuperGreen Solutions and BillboardConnection were well represented.

Shep Hyken - Guest SpeakerShep Hyken came on stage next, bringing his uber-positive message of Amaze Every Customer Every Time. Great stories mixed with some well-placed slight of hand tricks kept our audience laughing and engaged. Judging by the amount of follow-up business cards our audience brought to the stage at the conclusion of his presentation, it was a big hit!

Saturday's schedule continued with more "franchisee-first" content. Owner Panels, Roundtable Discussions, all with specific actionable content that franchisees could take home and begin using Monday morning! The event rolls well on Day #3, everyone has high expectations of what should be happening and World Expo delivers.

The final event at all World Expos is our Awards celebration. A great meal, nicely dressed business professionals and recognition across the board reads our script. Scott Mast was so on top of his role as emcee to start the evening, everyone knew it would be a memorable night. Some last minute changes to awards, slides and speaker notes out of sync and that made for some interesting developments. Pretty soon the stage was shared by Ray and Scott, bantering back and forth with the audience, not knowing if this was real or an "act." For the record, that whole exchange was live and unrehearsed! 

Franchisees from all brands and all four corners were included in the evening's awards presentation. We recognized new Million Dollar Club members, our top Mentors and Rookies, gave high achievement accolades and more. Finally, Ray ushered forth new inductees into the Hall of Fame. Several for both Signarama and EmbroidMe, plus BillboardConnection's first-ever member, Neil Spencer. It was a wonderful finish to our conference, sending all of our franchisees home on a high note.

The World Expo brings our UFG team together in a unique way. Each year we have new corporate employees that attend and work at their first World Expo. For them, seeing franchisees that are so successful and hungry to learn is important. The seasoned, well-trained experts that make the event tick year after year are so good at what they do - having developed such a passion for their roles at our event. Too many names to list, suffice it to say that we have team members that come ready to work amazingly hard and deliver a phenomenal show to our customers each year. They are the heart of World Expo. I have plenty of thanks and admiration for the UFG Expo Committee and team that makes Expo possible. 

General SessionThis is what we do. We plan, create, organize and deliver World Expo to bring more success to our franchisees and our group. We have so much evidence that the franchisees that will cut three and a half days out of their yearlong schedule to be a part of Expo will perform better as a result. More ideas, suppliers, motivation, education and camaraderie flow openly for these business owners. It's there for everyone. It is an investment in time and capital. I urge all that did not attend to speak to franchisees that did. Let them show you why it works. And plan on joining hundreds of your peers next June in Las Vegas for World Expo 2015. Caesars Palace is our stage - you will definetely return enriched!          -dm