Let’s get virtual: Six must-read tips for engaging online

Let’s get virtual: Six must-read tips for engaging online

By: Abby Melone

It’s a brave new world for everyone. Quarantine, lockdown, self-isolation and sheltering in place characterize the new normal imposed by COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. In a virtuous cycle, people depend on strong businesses, which depend on a strong economy, which depends on strong businesses that depend on people.


The fact is that people, businesses and the economy shouldn’t just stop, even in such unprecedented times, and perhaps more so because of this crisis. Fortunately, this is also the era of high technology, and there is no time like the present to show just what that technology is capable of, especially in business dealings.


As the pandemic stretches on, more businesses are turning to virtual meetings to get things done. Skype, Zoom … these are the most vital tools for business today. But as everyone has intimately discovered, when an in-person meeting becomes virtual, much can be lost, and the road to disaster can be perilously short when you’re online. We all want to be as effective as if we were physically there, but how do we stay engaging and charming and avoid as many distractions, hiccups and potential disasters as possible?


Like any good professional, you need to know the tricks of the trade. Here are some tips to help:


Positioning of the camera. A wacky camera angle can be extremely distracting. Who wants to see directly into the inside of your nose? Pull down your computer screen slightly to make sure the camera is dead on rather than pointing upward, which most likely is your more natural way to position the screen.


Background noise. There is no better way to turn off the person you are meeting with than some distracting noise. Be conscious of your surroundings, especially now that you are most likely working from home: clanking jewelry, dog barking, roommate or significant other also working from home. 


Distracting background. Make sure you do not give the person you are meeting with the opportunity to focus on a picture of the sports team you love but they hate. Position yourself against an empty wall or something non-distracting.


Don’t look at yourself in the video. Very few of us can resist glancing, or even staring, at our own camera window. Don’t! The person you are meeting can see you are distracted by you and not them. Also, you miss loads of cues from the other person when you are staring into your own eyes. Is the person you are meeting with interested? Engaged? Bored? Distracted? You won’t know unless you are looking at them.


Try to maintain a dialog. It’s easy to steal the “conversation” and talk and talk and talk. Be sure to make time in your presentation to see where the other person is, do they have questions, are they following along?


Know your demo tools: both the functionality of the platform as well as the material you will be showing. The person on your computer screen is watching your every move, so the more comfortable you are with your tools, the more flawless (and therefore impressive) you come across in your meetings. Close out all windows you would not want someone to see before your meeting starts (email, social media, YouTube). Remember: when technology goes wrong, it can take you from being competent and impressive to the alternative in seconds.

Home sweet office: How to make your home office work

Home sweet office: How to make your home office work

By: Max Crampton- Thomas

4 min read March 2020 The COVID-19 health pandemic has upended daily life in unprecedented ways amid calls from the government for people to social distance and stay home as much as possible. Many businesses have had to close their doors and ask their employees to work from home. While some individuals may be accustomed to working from a home office setting, for a large majority of the working world this is uncharted waters that could benefit from some guidance. Invest: offers some need-to-know tips for working from home during this time of crisis. 



Constant Communication 

Working in an office setting, you often take for granted the ease of communication between you and your colleagues. Situations that could have been resolved by simply walking to someone’s desk now require more effort via other methods of communication. The key is to establish a consistent flow of communication that starts with a daily understanding of what your employees’ schedules will look like on any given day. This can be easily accomplished by having them send out their daily schedules and workload in a quick email at the start of every business day. Communication can then be maintained based around this schedule and productivity can be more easily managed as well. For more direct communication in regard to smaller issues that may not require a phone call, office communication applications like Slack can help facilitate these quick discussions. 

Maintain a Daily Routine 

For almost any working person, maintaining a daily routine becomes second nature. When unforeseen circumstances like COVID-19 interrupt this daily routine, it can throw a person off course quite rapidly, which can result in less productivity and a decrease in focus. The key is to adapt and maintain your daily routine to the changing environment as much as possible. Something as simple as getting dressed in business clothing can seem unnecessary when working from home, especially when staying in pajamas all day may sound a lot more appealing, but maintaining this daily activity can be key in starting your work day off on the right foot and retaining as much normalcy as possible. Make the effort to try and stick to your normal work schedule throughout the day, including taking breaks as you would in the office, eating lunch around the same time you normally would and trying to stick to your typical working hours as best as possible. 

Maintaining Posture (Physical & Mental) 

There are many arguments in favor of the benefits of working from home but maintaining your posture, both physical and mental, is probably not high on that list. From a physical standpoint, in an office setting you are usually sitting in a proper desk chair with a relatively straight back or even standing straight up thanks to standing desks. The same cannot normally be said for a home office setting. In an interview with CBS, New York chiropractor Dr. Joseph D. Salamone said, “Everybody’s going to be in sitting postures, having text neck.These people really need to make precautions and live a healthier lifestyle while we’re in this quarantine state.” He recommended that those who find themselves working from home should practice regular stretching to help maintain posture. For those who have the means and access to the proper resources it would also be advisable to create a proper workstation, not unlike the one you are accustomed to in your own office, as opposed to trying to work from a slouched posture on a bed or couch.
Maintaining posture also relates to mental health as much as physical well-being. Going from working in a sociable setting like an office with other people to unexpectedly working by yourself at home can be quite jarring for the mind. It is vitally important to maintain the social connections that you have grown accustomed to in a normal workday, like lunch with coworkers. This social time does not have to be lost as technology has made it so you can use your lunchtime from home to speak with or even video call with coworkers and friends. There is also the underlying issue of potential for increased anxiety during this time of isolation, especially with the influx of nonstop news about COVID-19. It’s crucial that individuals limit the daily amount of time they spend consuming this news, and instead focus their attention on other matters like work, family and the home. 

Creating A Proper Workspace

A proper home workspace may help in maintaining posture but it is also important in helping to facilitate as normal a daily routine as possible. In theory, this workspace is where an individual will spend the majority of their eight-hour working day, so it is crucial that this space is not only comfortable but also practical for achieving daily tasks. Find somewhere in the house that you can maintain your workstation without much interruption, and if possible, somewhere that has access to natural light. Working from home can also be tricky as the lines become blurred between workspace and home space, resulting in it becoming harder to “switch off” after a full working day. It is important to try and establish this workspace in a section of the home that allows you to “step into” work at the beginning of the day and “step out” of work at the end. 

To learn more, visit:




For up-to-date advice on the Coronavirus response, you can check the CDC website here.  For Florida-specific information, click here 



Logistics Expo MODEX Going Ahead Despite Coronavirus Concerns

Logistics Expo MODEX Going Ahead Despite Coronavirus Concerns

By: Sara Warden

2 min read March 2020 — Despite Coronavirus concerns, this year’s MODEX conference is going ahead as scheduled on March 9-12 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. The conference attracts 900 exhibitors and, as logistics companies, all have a stake in the developments currently fragmenting the supply chain.

The Covid-19 outbreak that began in China at the end of January has already shut down national and international borders, but this is one reason why expos such as MODEX are so important. The companies present in Atlanta will be supply chain and logistics optimization companies whose goal is to optimize operations by reducing or even eliminating human involvement. 

One of the technologies to be launched at the expo is the Puck 32MR, a joint venture between California’s Velodyne Lidar and South Korea’s Seoul Robotics. The technology is a lidar sensor that can detect obstacles in a warehouse setting, allowing for safe automated navigation. “Supply chain systems need to continue to become smarter and safer, more efficient and further automated. To address these requirements, companies are turning to lidar to play a key role in enabling the next generation of manufacturing and supply chain solutions,” said Jon Barad, Velodyne’s vice president of business development, in a press release. 

Another company presenting its portfolio will be industrial vehicle automation company Elokon, which has a global presence and U.S. operations headquartered in Atlanta. One notable product that will be presented at the expo is MHI Innovation Award-winning solution ELOshield, which is a sensor that detects proximity and provides collision warning with specific warning and protection zones.

And Atlanta-based Elemica provides a cloud-based supply network that provides tracking transparency and optimizes product shipment. “These enhancements improve use of inventory, streamline onboarding for inter-business connectivity, improve search, including hazardous material (Hazmat) criteria, and allow for more in-depth visualization for track and trace of product safety and knowing where orders and shipments are at all times,” said Arun Samuga, Elemica’s Chief Technology Officer in a press release.

The transportation management system (TMS) market in North America is poised to grow by $1.62 billion during 2020-2024 and Atlanta is at the forefront. American Software, an Atlanta-based supply chain software solutions provider, was recently upgraded to a Strong Buy rating by Zacks. The company’s president, Allan Dow, said in the company’s most recent earnings call that the software will allow customers to be “better positioned to overcome the growing supply chain talent shortage that may impact their profitable growth and ability to respond to rapidly changing market conditions or unanticipated supply chain disruptions.”

And with there being no signs of the Coronavirus slowing down and quarantine numbers growing by the day, more integrated, automated supply chains and logistics systems could be just what the economy needs to boost trade activity. 


To learn more, visit:







The Peach State’s tourism industry is thriving

The Peach State’s tourism industry is thriving

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read February 2020 — Florida has the beaches, Pennsylvania has the Pocono Mountains, and California has the movie studios. Looking for a place where you can experience all three attractions and still get a taste of southern hospitality? The Peach State is your best bet and the tourism statistics prove it. Georgia welcomed more than 111 million international and domestic visitors in 2018, a record-breaking year for the state’s tourism industry, Gov. Brian Kemp and economic development leaders announced in January during the annual Tourism, Hospitality and Arts day at the Georgia State Capitol.

Explore Georgia, the state tourism office within the Georgia Department of Economic Development, calculated that visitors spent close to $40 billion in communities throughout the state and supported 478,000 jobs. The billions in tourism-related expenditures generated $3.4 billion in state and local tax revenue.

“As visitors continue to discover Georgia’s unexpected destinations that range from the North Georgia Mountains to Cumberland Island, our economy continues to grow, new jobs are created, and our communities thrive,” said Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Without the jobs created by the tourism industry, Georgia’s unemployment rate would be 10%, nearly twice as high as the record-low average, Explore Georgia said in a press release. 

The announcement follows Georgia’s consecutive recognition as the best state to do business by different business publications, solidifying the Peach State’s live, work and play attraction. “The tourism, hospitality, and arts industries are constantly propelling our state’s places, culture, stories, and people to the forefront – showing the world why Georgia is the best place to vacation, live, and do business,” Wilson said. 

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Georgia Wraps Up Decade as Top State for business

Georgia Wraps Up Decade as Top State for business

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read January 2020Development and growth in Atlanta remain strong as the decade comes to an end, and the economic activity and favorable business climate characteristic of Atlanta looks just as peachy for the entire state of Georgia. In November, Georgia was recognized by Site Selection Magazine as the top state for business for a record-breaking seventh year in a row. Similarly, Area Development Magazine also named Georgia as the top state for business for the sixth-consecutive year. 

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said continuing to foster a thriving business climate has been a major part of his vision for the state since assuming office in January 2019. “From Day One of my administration, we have been laser-focused on creating opportunities for hardworking Georgians in every corner of the state,” Kemp  announced at the Georgia Cyber Center in Augusta, Georgia in November . “Our efforts to cut burdensome regulations, continue developing a world-class workforce, and market all regions of the Peach State through the formation of a Rural Strike Team have not gone unnoticed, and this announcement affirms that.” 


The state’s workforce training program, Georgia Quick Start, was also recognized as one of the best in the nation. The state reported around 29,000 new jobs were created for fiscal year 2019. According to the Atlanta Regional Commission, 2.5 million residents are expected to move to the region by the year 2040, bringing the total population to 8 million. 


Heading into the new decade, technology will be a key area of growth for the region and state. The Metro Atlanta Chamber identified bioscience, financial technology, supply chain and Internet of Things as economic segments poised for growth. Additionally, Georgia’s logistics hub legacy is one of the state’s main competitive advantages. Logistics hubs like the Port of Savannah and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport connect businesses to their customers with ease. The workforce training programs, and logistic hubs, coupled with the state’s pro-business policies make Georgia a frontrunner for companies looking to relocate. 

“The nation’s leading site consultants see opportunity for growth across our state. Our top-ranked workforce development initiatives – combined with a conservative, pro-business policy approach, world-class higher education system, and a logistics network that puts the global economy within arm’s reach – make Georgia a top competitor for investment from businesses large and small – across the country and around the world,” Kemp said. 


To learn more, visit:


https://www.georgia.org https://atlantaregional.org/

Truist completes merger to create country’s sixth-largest commercial bank

Truist completes merger to create country’s sixth-largest commercial bank

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read December 2019The banking industry welcomed the nation’s sixth-largest commercial bank earlier this month as regulatory authorities completed the merger between BB&T and SunTrust banks, now officially known as the Truist Financial Corporation. The new bank will be headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, while Atlanta retains its corporate and investment banking division. The conversion to the Truist brand will be phased out over two years as systems are integrated and will serve approximately 10 million U.S consumer households and businesses. The Truist brand will keep its predecessors’ philanthropic culture by contributing close to $100 million annually to various metro Atlanta community organizations over the next three years.  

“This is a historic moment for Truist – a financial services organization created from two companies with shared values and a deep commitment to building a better future for our clients and communities,” said former BB&T Corporation CEO and Truist Chairman Kelly King in a press release. “The completion of this merger of equals is a tremendous achievement and a testament to the thousands of Truist teammates who have diligently worked to ensure its timely conclusion.”

Truist will have the largest market share of any bank in metro Atlanta and will rank as one of the leading commercial banks in most of the major markets in its territory. Prior to the merger, SunTrust had been Georgia’s largest bank. “We have much work ahead of us, but we’re well-positioned to create meaningful change for the clients we serve and the communities where we live and work,” said former SunTrust CEO and Truist President William Rogers in a press release. 

To that end, its leaders announced a $60 billion community benefits plan in July earmarked for lending or investment in low- and moderate-income communities from 2020–2022. The commitment includes monies slated to help customers with home purchase mortgages and small business loans, as well as creating affordable housing developments and investments in local community redevelopment agencies across its markets.

Metro Atlanta can expect close to $100 million in community investments annually for the next three years. The community investments will support varying initiatives each year aimed at addressing the diverse needs of the region. Previously, SunTrust supported nonprofit organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club of Atlanta, YMCA of Metro Atlanta, as well as investing more than $10 million in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits to help construct 175 units of affordable senior housing in greater Atlanta, according to its website.

As for the Atlanta Braves’ newly built home, SunTrust Park will keep its namesake for now.  Much like the systems integrations, the rebranding efforts, including BB&T and SunTrust sports related facilities, could take close to two years to bear the Truist name, per different reports. 

For now, clients can continue to use their perspective BB&T or SunTrust branches, websites, mobile apps, financial advisers and relationship managers, as well as use BB&T and SunTrust ATMs to make withdrawals without incurring out-of-network fees, Truist officials said. 


To learn more, visit: https://www.thepremierfinancialinstitution.com/

Decatur embraces “hipsturbia”

Decatur embraces “hipsturbia”

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read December 2019 — Downtowns throughout the nation are popular among millennials for their walkability and myriad retail, recreation and lifestyle choices. But as millennials settle down and begin to outgrow their trendy Downtown apartments, the need to find a suburban neighborhood that is affordable, yet vibrant and walkable, has solidified itself as a trend to watch out for in 2020. Aptly described as “hipsturbia,” millennials across the nation are trading their city lifestyle for the suburbs, without losing their affinity for walkability and access to cool, a-la mode restaurants, retail and recreation options. Developers are tapping into the hipsturbia trend as seen by the proliferation of affordable, multi-use suburban communities in cities like San Francisco, Chicago and Atlanta. As a result, in October, The Urban Land Institute named “hipsturbia” one of the top emerging trends for 2020. 

In essence, “hipsturbia” suburbs are characterized by their vibrant downtowns that offer walkability, public transit and a variety of “hip” restaurants, retail and recreation. In the Atlanta Metro Area, Decatur, located In Dekalb County, is quickly embracing “hipsturbia.” Approximately one-third of Decatur residents could be considered millennials, according to the population figures on Decatur’s official website. This year, Niche.com, the neighborhood ranking and review site, rated Decatur as the No. 1 place, and suburb, to live in Georgia. Downtown Decatur offers a bevy of bars, restaurants, coffee shops, and parks, that add to its “cool” factor. The area has an urban-suburban feel that fits in with the “hipsturbia” trend. According to the Urban Land Institute, people living in communities like Decatur, are discovering that smaller communities can have the same appeal as big cities. The institute predicts that millennials will continue to move to communities that offer walkable spaces and “hip” amenities. 

Once touted as cash-strapped and debt-ridden, millennials are making an impact in the national housing market. According to the institute, “hipsturbia” is happening in major cities like San Francisco and Chicago, as well as smaller cities such as Charleston and Phoenix. As the lack of home affordability draws young families away from big cities and into the suburbs, it is possible that it will not take long for “hipsturbia” to transform from a trend into the preferred suburban development style of the future.

For more information, visit:



How Did Thanksgiving Become Game Day for the NFL?

How Did Thanksgiving Become Game Day for the NFL?

By: Sara Warden

2 min read NOVEMBER 2019 — On Thanksgiving, there is only one thing that comes close to turkey in importance for Atlanta sports fans, and that’s the NFL’s game schedule. This year, the Atlanta Falcons will be one of three teams hosting the Thanksgiving Day games, facing off again the New Orleans Saints. 

This will be the Falcons’ fourth Thanksgiving Day game, and having lost against the Saints last year on their home turf, this one is sure to be a must-watch. Those fans going to watch the game live could also feel a little pain in their wallets: Last year’s Saints-Falcons game was the most expensive Thanksgiving Day game for fans, with an average ticket price of $518 on the secondary market.

No doubt, Thanksgiving football is big business for the NFL. In 2018, NBC’s primetime viewing of the Falcons-Saints game brought in an 11.4/24 rating, up 18% from 2017’s Washington-New York Giants primetime game on NBC and the network’s best Thanksgiving night NFL performance since 2015. For the rights to a selection of high-profile games that includes the Thanksgiving game, Super Bowl Broadcasts and Thursday Night Football, NBC is paying $1.1 billion a year to the NFL.

That explains why the tradition stuck, but why did it start? Although it doesn’t quite go back to The Mayflower, the Thanksgiving game is a long-standing tradition spanning back as far as 1920. Political upheaval during the time meant the games were sporadic, but eventually in 1934, George A. Richards bought the Portsmouth Spartans, renamed them the Detroit Lions and gave Thanksgiving another try. 

This was largely a solution to the problem of low attendance during the year, but the Thanksgiving game became a rousing success. First, people already had the day off work and second, it became an escape for those looking to perhaps spend less quality time with family. More than 26,000 people booked tickets weeks in advance and reportedly thousands more were turned away at the gate.

In 1966, the Dallas Cowboys saw the success of the “Detroit Lions vs…” games and decided to get in on the action. Since then, both teams have played each year, with one additional game added to the roster. This year’s Falcons-Saints game will be played in the new, state-of-the-art Mercedes-Benz stadium – “the finest sports and entertainment facility in the world,” according to Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council.

The stadium was funded by a largely taxpayer-based system, in a $2.4 billion investment based on bonds and hotel taxes. And Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms believes the stadium may allow Atlanta to host many more high-profile sporting events, including these popular Thanksgiving games. “I think it’s well worth the investment, and when you look at the long-lasting impact and our ability to showcase Atlanta, sometimes you have to spend a little money to make a little money,” she told USA Today.

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Tyler Perry’s new 330-acre film compound is the largest in the nation

Tyler Perry’s new 330-acre film compound is the largest in the nation

By: Felipe Rivas

2 min read November 2019 — Hollywood and the movie industry have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship since the days of Charlie Chalpin, Humphrey Bogart and Bela Lugosi. However, in the 21st century, multi-hyphenate film mogul, Tyler Perry, has been keen on proving that successful movie production outside of California is possible. In October, Perry unveiled his new 330-acre Tyler Perry Studios, built on the grounds of Fort McPherson in Atlanta, a former military base in Atlanta that Perry purchased in 2015. While the state of Georgia has consistently attracted new movie and TV productions to the region via tax incentives, the man behind Madea’s crazy family adventures has been busy on and off the camera promoting Georgia and the Atlanta Metro Area as a venue for productions of all sizes. Now, with his new studio in full swing, Perry has a new base to challenge Hollywood for the audience’s attention, praise and profit. 

Tyler Perry Studios is the largest film production studio in the nation. It also makes Perry the first African-American to have sole ownership of a major film production studio. “We are a major player in film and television, and now we have the facilities to rival Hollywood – so come, bring your productions,” Perry told Atlanta Business Chronicle in late September. Georgia’s current tax credit system, in which studios can earn up to 30% tax credits on total production costs, has led to a boom in movie business in the region. It estimated that Georgia’s film and television industry generated close to $2.7 billion in economic impact in 2018 with over 300 productions in the region.  


It is likely that you have seen a show or movie shot in Perry’s former studio, also in Atlanta. Several top productions have used his facilities to wow audiences, including Marvel’s “Black Panther,” AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” and “Pitch Perfect 3,” aside from Perry’s bevy of brand-name shows and movies. The new studio features 12 state-of-the-art sound stages, 200 acres of picturesque green space, over 40 Victorian style homes and even a replica of the White House. Perry, who is an avid lover of architecture, still has 200 acres of space to continue to build elaborate stages suitable for any type of production. 


Perry’s most recent productions, “The Oval” and “Sistas,” have drawn over 3.3 million viewers at night on BET+, the network’s streaming platform. In October, along with the grand opening of his studio, Perry announced two more series are set to premiere in BET+ in 2020. Fans can add the new series “Bruh” and “Ruthless” to their watch list sometime in the new year. Aside from being a world-class movie production site, the new studio will also serve as host to global events, concentrating the world’s eyes on the Atlanta Metro Area. 


To learn more about our interviewee, visit:  https://tylerperrystudios.com/