Written By Shelly Lamb
The negativity climate has reached an all time high with the emergence of social media groups. This is especially true for ones that are encouraged to promote negativity within the online community. As a business owner and brand, you have every right to protect your entity while allowing freedom of speech to occur. A great social media policy for starters will help your employees understand the ramifications of their actions and what the difference may be to their freedom of speech and association to your brand.
After doing some initial research, I have found that Starbucks has a wonderful message to their partners. It is clear definition of respect to freedom of speech, while clearly outlying the don’ts. Some of the great highlights are:
“Truth be told. Your voice can be powerful, so don’t spread false information, rumors or misleading claims about Starbucks, our products and services, or other partners. Get the facts to always be honest and accurate.”
“Take the high road. Show respect for others’ opinions, even when you might not agree. And no trolling, bullying or flaming - there’s no winner in that game.”
Starbucks has it right and covers every aspect that may be needed. The full document can be read at:
Consumers beware that most social media posts and rants do have some form of untruth to them. If there was solid foundation to any claim the original poster was stating the proper channels would have been taken to rectify. In social media today, I have witnessed ex-employees, friends of competing business, and competing business names, spreading out right lies to tarnish other local business. Of course these posts do not disclose that information up front. Don’t worry though; social media has made a name for itself in that regard as being a quick retaliation forum of the missing truth.
It is best to all business large and small to review with their staff the importance of the company brand and their presence. Keeping your policies up to date and reviewed will allow the business owner to rectify quickly any action on discipline.
I recently had to make a difficult business decision based on my firm belief that building your business brand is the #1 priority as a business owner. Since inception, I have encouraged the community, especially business owners that social media accountability is extremely important in building a credible reputation for your business. Additionally, the people you associate yourself with is also a reflection on you personally. Your brand will be indicative of the people that you attract.
Every business owner should implement a 'Social Media Policy' - Based on some of the comments made in the community and a growing archive of these posts to support my statements here, many employees would be terminated should their employers be aware of the malicious attacks of other people, disgusting posts/Meme's, and defamation towards others. If you are a local business owner and you are following in those same decision making ways, you WILL lose business in the community. Thousands of people are reading their posts but don't comment. They don't need to comment because they already see what kind of person you are and they will have no desire to hire someone like you in this small community made up of hundreds of local businesses.
Ask yourself these questions:
1) If you were a CEO or President of a company and learned of your employee's behavior and commenting on social media, would you give them a warning or would you immediately terminate them?
2) As a resident in the community, will you hire a business owner after you see them harassing other people in the community, posting photos of kids and exploiting them? Will you support a business owner if you see them insulting your neighbor, your best friend, another business owner or children in the community?
These are all very valid questions and ones that YOU should be asking yourself. Most importantly, business owners need to be very careful on expressing their opinions. It will change the opinion of your customers if you are speaking badly of people in your community; the very community that YOU rely on to keep YOUR business open. Freedom of speech is encouraged but unfortunately social media demands different rules on a "Public Forum" and I am hoping that more people start understanding this moving forward.
At the end of the day, Social Media Defamation does exist and you can be found liable for defamation when your name and false statements are being posted in a social media group. It is just a matter of time when someone post to a group one times too many. There will be consequences!
~Melissa Swader | Publisher
Written by Shelly Lamb
A year in review of continual depreciation of aging structure, increased labor costs (prop 206) and additional spending on the budget for 2018 vs the actual costs stated of 2016 prompt these discussions by the board as stated in their 2018 Budget in Brief.
There are some key points to spending that may be thoroughly looked into further for reductions to offset this rate increase. Here are some of the highlights from the briefing!
**See the Budget Table inset*
Prop 206 shows a 30.43% increase to cost and the Parks salaries show a clear reflection of the increase. Administrative salaries on the rise 22.07% since 2016 reported actuals. There may be a valid reason for that increase, but no questions asked by elected officials in minutes made to the public during the official budget meetings.
Total income decreased 1.88% while operating spending increase 17.45%
Largest operating expenditure was landscaping maintenance. A purchasing review of this maintenance may be in order via a closed bid to create competition and to identify if an actual charge for this maintenance is conducive to the market segment.
Although the briefing noted 515,000 in reductions, there are still many areas unturned. A rate increase should not be presented until all of the expenditures are looked at, starting with the largest spend area.
The last two years in review have made great strides to the transparency of the board to the general public. All meeting minutes are not present and some of the special meetings minute are not cited. Video recording has been discussed several times however never implemented. This would be the next great step to reaching out to the community through total transparency!
Congratulations to Stacee Foxx for approaching and getting her organized signage variance for the represented Girl Scout Group.
Congratulations and very big thank you to Mary Ann Derryberry for approaching the board to ask for inclusion of Daisy Mountain Veterans input to the memorial events. A successful more inclusive solution was formed to achieve that goal.
Congratulations to U-haul & Creative Castle for expanding approval.
To Anthem Parkside residents I encourage all to contact your elected officials as this is the turning point in our budget or attend at least one meeting to voice your concerns on the potential increase.
I wanted to thank Shelly Lamb for providing this valuable information to the community.
Over the past several months, residents have addressed several issues on the Addicted to Anthemstuff & Community Facebook group regarding maintenance around the Anthem Parks, the ponds, the entire landscape in Anthem and so much more. I wanted to provide you with an opportunity to review their overview of where the budgets are being allocated.
Please click on this public report posted to the Anthem Community Council website and review where the monies are being spent.
Will we see an increase in 2019? Based on this 4-page newsletter, you can decide for yourself.
We have always lived in a world where there is good vs. evil and in most cases we are caught in unexpected circumstances which leads us to make split second decisions on how to handle them. Once of the most influential physicists’ of the 20th century one stated, “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.” The Nobel Prize winner, Albert Einstein believed that the world is in greater peril from those who tolerate it, then the ones that actually commit evil.
The difference between self-defense training and malicious intent to do harm is life-changing either way. Anthem was recently subject to recent car break-ins and crime in the area however these were crimes of convenience. “Anthem is a safe community, but outsiders will always look to target safe communities because safety often leads to complacency,” said District 4 Patrol Commander, W. Cory Morrison with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. Social media is one of the most powerful resources in the universe. You can learn details about people, places, time of events, and even target communities. MCSO highly encourages homeowners to take precautions to protect their valuables by locking their doors, turning on outside lights or adding additional exterior lighting. Some homeowners have recently invested in CCTV installations around their property. Morrison also stated, “We are also working with the HOA, Block Watch, and other community groups to provide the highest level of service possible.”
Once again, social media is a powerful tool and although there may be crime in any community, not just in the Anthem/North Valley area, one could argue that statements posted on the internet are more dangerously stated then an oral comment with intent. In short, do not ever take the law into your own hands. However, if you are in a situation where self-defense is necessary, then you have plenty of areas where “Self-Defense training” becomes instrumental in protecting yourself or your loved ones. Local Anthem resident and business owner, Chris Sebestyn with Dark Horse Training 6 Plus specializes in pistol training, carbine training (A.R. 15 style firearm, long range), and home clearing training. “A firearm is a tool. You have to want to learn how to use that tool just like everything else in life,” said Sebestyn.
Women are more likely to be intimidated by handling firearm weapons then men, however training is training. If you are inexperienced and uneducated but have considered training or getting your kids involved through training and gun safety, there are plenty of options out there. Sebestyn mentioned there are several different organizations throughout the country that offer firearms safety and hunter education courses for children and recommends Ben Avery Shooting Range shooting facility in north Phoenix. He added, “You should always go to a range with someone who knows about firearms and try as many different styles until you find that one that fits.” Dark Horse Training 6 Plus offers all levels of training from beginner to advanced and often times will bring in guest instructors that are in special operations and highly trained in the military or in law-enforcement.
“There are plenty of firearms safety courses available for children based on the specific parental desire,” stated Christopher Dean, the Range Manager at Ben Avery Shooting Facility. This coming January 2018, the Annie Oakley Sure Shots program will be resuming. Game and Fish handguns are used for these programs, so there is no need to purchase a handgun or ammunition. You can actively learn and participate. The program goals are to provide a safe & controlled environment and promote firearms safety and education. Dean said, “I recommend interested parents to make inquiries to reputable instructors and organizations to find what specifically suites the needs of their children.” The National Shooting Sports Foundation sponsors Project Child Safe. The NRA has the Eddy the Eagle program, and the Game and Fish Department offers Hunter Education training. “In my experience education can assist in this greatly because people are often uncomfortable with the unknown,” said District 4 Commander, Morrison. Morrison also pointed out that the Sheriff’s office is happy to engage in conversations with people who have questions about the subject. Most importantly, that the community and law enforcement is a partnership and the more people work together, the safer everyone will all be.
The owner of MVP Shooters Den, Perry Mastrangelo is another Anthem resident who had little or no experience in firearms training but in 2007 Mastrangelo began training with the Phoenix Police Department. After gaining the confidence that comes with professional training, Mastrangelo realized he had a different passion and respect so began finding ways to perfect his craft. In doing so, he learned more about ammunition and wanted to share his knowledge through training on the best deals for avid shooters and professionals. “I have trained at the Arizona Law Enforcement Academy in South Mountain, the Scottsdale Gun Club, and Ben Avery Shooting Facility,” said Mastrangelo. You can often find him offering deals for those who are on shooting ranges or in open shooting areas. His facebook page has grown a personalized audience to where he can meet with customers and help guide them in the best way possible. He added, “We have all been there at one time. When trained properly on the use of firearms, you will gain the confidence and knowledge on how to safely store, handle and shoot a firearm.”
Self-defense comes in all types of training. Matt and Stephanie Numrich are owners of the self-defense training in Anthem known as Krav Maga. This tactical mixed-martial art and combative self defense system emphasizes continuous motion against assailant attacks. Phx Krav Fit were featured in the summer as one of the most trending fitness training programs in the valley and the only certified Krav Maga school in Anthem. Most importantly, they offer free training classes so you can learn a little more about the program itself. Who doesn’t like free, right? In short, if you want to protect yourself or your family, get prepared. Stay active and educate yourself! The only person that controls the outcome of an unexpected situation is someone who has the knowledge to do so.
Thank you to all those who provided your professional contributions for the community.
Most of us can’t even imagine what life would be like without communicating in some way with our friends, family, and business associates online. Facebook: the social media phenomenon. The free exchange of ideas and conversation is possible through social media and the web itself has transformed the way we obtain information, debates and read stories that may be true or fall under the guidelines of social media defamation. Along with this advanced communication platform comes elevated responsibility and social media accountability.
For years we have been told technology is our friend, but it can also transform into your enemy just the same. We have all seen this happen right before our eyes. It is that defining moment when you read an unconscionable Facebook post and you take a minute to process it. Immediately you are thinking, “What the *$%(%?” and you want to instantaneously post your opinions about the subject topic. STOP! First think before you comment because actions always have consequences and if you are a business owner, you definitely need to think before you post your opinion. Granted, opinions are just opinions but if a person posts an untrue, harmful statement about you or your business on Facebook, they can be held personally responsible and can be sued for libel. Yes, this is true! Despite what other group administrators and members may say, this is 100% accurate. The Facebook Corporation is protected under the Section 230 Communication Decency Act so when you hear threats to sue Facebook just know they are protected. Here is where it gets tricky. As a member of any Facebook group, a member is solely responsible for the comments they post; the content you post is recorded and there is no going back. If you think you removed your post quick enough before someone has read it, you did not! More than likely, a screen-shot of your post has been taken by several people when there are thousands of people in a public group forum.
Please take my Social Media 101 seminar. Okay Okay, I really don’t have a seminar but what I do have is intelligence and I hope that everyone out there knows that the readers are watching what you post! Repeat this line over and over again….. THE MEMBERS ARE WATCHING MY POSTS! If you have a secure job and you are comfortable with your personal pages, then so be it. However, keep in mind if you are applying for a job or you are a business owner and the first 10 pictures of you are at the bar with a drink in your hand, a cigar or cigarettes in your mouth holding up shot glasses in bars night after night, I can guarantee the employer will move onto the next resume. You are a liability! First impressions are everything and social media is about perception. I can guarantee you, a consumer will look at your personal pages and think, “Wow, this guy is running a local business?” If you do not want potential employers looking at your personal indiscretions, then change your profile settings. If you are a business owner ask yourself, “Should I be posting this?” No matter who you are, you have a social media responsibility to post according to your lifestyle and/or your business. In short, be responsible.
Business owners are even more accountable for posting comments on Facebook, especially on closed group forums where thousands of people are reading. What is the perfect community? Let’s be honest because there is no such thing. I can only commend business owners who open up a new business. I want to do everything I can to support them because they put their “everything” out there to give people somewhere else to go. There are so many components in building a successful business. Social media is one of them. It is a great way to grow your business clientele and if you are using these media platforms the correct way, then you can ultimately build a successful empire! I have been in the marketing and media business for almost 20 years, I know this to be true!
Have you ever been part of a Facebook thread where the original topic was not even the topic anymore because somehow someone commented and took the post into a completely different direction? Yes, too many times. It’s called “Thread Hijacking” and most people do that because they need to be the center of attention. Yet, what they do not realize is we can all see their end-game. Have you ever been part of a thread where someone posted something really questionable and you see a local business owner respond with sarcasm and rudeness towards another member? Oh, I am sure you have!!! It happens all too often. I do not believe some of those business owners even realize what message they are actually sending. UUUmmmmm, hello McFly??? These people are NOT just BOLD font-names on your computer screen they are real people that live in the same community as you do that hire local businesses for services. Think about this for a minute.
Would you hire that business owner’s company to provide local services? Would you tag them on another post if someone else was looking for their service? Business owners are accountable in the same fashion as a consumer/resident in a local community is. Even more so! It goes back to the idiotic posts when their sole mission is to simply “Stir the pot.” Business owners need to stay out of the mix – stay out of the drama!!!! Period! It is mind-boggling to read comments by local business owners and yet in the next post, you see them posting a special or discounts or family night at their place of business or friends who are plugging them about how great they are. Think about this for a minute….AGAIN!
As a consumer, you can make a conscious decision on whether you want to support a business owner who is irresponsibly misbehaving on social media. If one’s personal character does not matter to you then that is your choice. If you are a business owner and you are being maliciously spoken about on other social media groups, you must take the high ground. The politically correct way to handle any negativity is simply state the truth and wish everyone a great day. Trust me I know you want to jump through the monitor just as I much as I do when I read hurtful comments. Here is the thing, after you post in a respectful fashion, you can walk your success right to the bank. In the end, a thousand negative comments will be yesterday’s post and someone out there will start a new topic to discuss.
The sweetest revenge on social media is what social media does for you……… Anything you do in your personal life, in your business, you will be known and always remember, the truth always comes out and ....… We are always watching your comments!
I always write my blogs as if I were speaking to you in person so I will be just as candid here as if I were talking to you face to face. I hope you all get to know me a little more in the process too. You may have read some of my recent posts on the ATAS & Community FB Group page, which is where I posted a few small blurbs about “Real Meaning”/”Real Talk” all leading up to this.
In case you did not see what I posted before- here is the premise: “Everyone comes with baggage. Find someone who loves you enough to help you unpack.” I mentioned before that we all have baggage simply because we all have a past. When you start any relationship, you should already know what you are getting into, whether personal or business. It is always a risk, but it can also be so rewarding at the same time. However, it is a two-way street in making any relationship work. Does everyone have issues? YES! Good, bad, or indifferent. They exist! It is what YOU do to work through them together that defines the kind of person you are as a human being.
We can clearly agree that no one is perfect and we are all capable of making mistakes. My second post was “It takes a real person to realize they made a mistake but an even better one to try to make things RIGHT!” A good person does not intentionally hurt people without having any remorse. If you feel horrible in what you did to someone personally, then step up and be accountable! Make it right! This applies to business owners as well. It takes a really strong backbone to survive commercially. As a consumer, we can ask the business to make good on services not provided. Good business owners will do so without questions. Good business owners will address the issue immediately. Good business owners will often pay it forward and give you a credit, free service, or wipe your bill clean. When they do, be thankful because if they were not good people, they would not even make the effort. We have been witness to so much judgment in this community and most of the time, those opinions are just opinions but that doesn’t make it hurt any less when you are the victim of those attacks. I mean half the time I want to jump through my computer monitor when reading some of that crap and just SLAP-A-B*%&! Based on the stupid things people say.…. OK not really, but you know that moment when you are listening to someone say something really stupid and you are trying soooooo hard not to wear the facial expression that reads, “Did that person just say that?” “What the heck is wrong with this person?” OMG, we have all been there! The stupidities out of people mouths are mind-boggling to me because they are just inconceivable. If you are shaking your head saying yes girl… I feel you on that, then perhaps that is because you truly understand what being a “good person” really is.
So let’s address that. To me a good person is one who understands that building people up far outweighs tearing people down. It means your beliefs don’t make you a better person; your behavior does. You honestly have to love yourself to love others and know that your intentions in life go far beyond just talking about it…. PROVE IT BY DOING IT! Put your physical and positive energy into the universe by making a difference. Don’t just write a donation to a charity, go participate at the charity event and volunteer. Those recipients want to know who is donating those monies, not just see your name on the dotted line. (Ok, that too! $$ Who am I kidding? haha) Ask yourself, have you volunteered or been to a charity event lately? Then why not? There is no better feeling when you give of yourself, when you think there is nothing left and yet, you still make time to do it anyway. That my friends, means you have the characteristics of being some good, genuine, and selfless and for that, you deserve a big hug.
Integrity is choosing your thoughts and actions based on values rather than personal gain. You can’t say you go to church every Sunday and stand on a moral high ground, when you turn around and blatantly lie and betray those who are waiting for you when you get back from church. You can’t put up this facade to the public and act another way in private. If you are someone who understands that we are all connected, that our choices have an impact, that you want to make decision to help others because you really do care, then stand on that moral high ground with pride! You are the ones making a difference out there. You are good people and peope I want to know!
Some of you are probably asking yourself, “Who is Melissa?” Well, I am not sure how to answer that because I have never written about myself. I moved to Anthem when we had a 4-way stop sign at Anthem Way & Gavilan Peak Pkwy with no zip code. I am a small business owner, belonged to networking groups, coached girls basketball at Boulder Creek High School, owned a magazine publication in Anthem, volunteer for charities and so much more over the last 17 years. I have roots & wings, but my heart will always remain in the community. It is who I am! It is how everyone knows me! As a nationally recognized blogger and a marketing connoisseur for small businesses for almost 20 years, I have always wanted to make a difference. I am a businesswoman at heart more than anything but simply I just really care about people. Sometimes so much that my heart breaks when the people close in my life hurt me! Inevitably, this is how I would describe myself. I am feisty, but I love unconditionally. I am generous, but I am cautious. I am supportive, but I am aware. I am loyal, but despise betrayal. Especially when you are given one reason, then find out someone is a blatant liar. I am outgoing, fun and sometimes crazy, but I know not everyone is friendly. I am confident, but know there are hateful people out there who are jealous. Even so, I am insecure at times when others judge me before taking the time to get to know me. My motto is “before you talk about me, talk to me first.” At times I react to other people’s actions, which is when the “crazy” comes out. This is only to say that I will not take SH*T from anyone and I will defend anyone who matters to me. I used to care about what others thought of me but I have learned when people talk negatively about me without knowing me at all, I must be doing something right! The truth is none of us are perfect. We are all flawed, living in an imperfect world trying to make the best of our lives and trying to make a difference.
Recently, I heard some lyrics to “Issues” by Julia Michaels. I played that for someone to remind that person that we all need to work on self-improvement but if you believe in each other, then you get through the issues together.
'Cause I got issues
But you got 'em too
So give 'em all to me
And I'll give mine to you
Bask in the glory
Of all our problems
'Cause we got the kind of love
It takes to solve 'em
I feel incredibly vulnerable even now by sharing that with all of you but I just feel that when you believe in something so much, you should keep fighting for whatever you believe in. You do whatever it takes and hold on to a little bit of hope. (personal, business, fitness, life goals... whatever "IT" is that you are fighting for) Then there comes a time when everyone reaches their limits, like I did! I invited someone to a corporate event and this person told me they were "lost and needed help." It is cliche, but actions do speak louder than words. Days later, their actions spoke volumes and everything they said was meaningless. So if there is anyone out there that may be going through their own issues or fighting your own demons, deal with those issues first, then move forward. Don't lie, betray, or fill in the gaps of life so you feel better. Get help first, clear your head, then take one day at a time!
I have seen so many people in this community be the victims of such hate & cyber-bullying on social media. It sickens me that there are people out there who can hide behind their computer monitors and post such nasty comments about other people. Are they such unhappy people that they create drama as a form of entertainment? Why do others join the bandwagon of such negativity? Do they really feel they need to squat down to a lower level to feel accepted? Do they realize how hurtful it is to trash someone’s name or local businesses on a social platform such as Facebook? C’Mon people! When you trash a business, you can hurt everyone involved. People can lose their jobs. Businesses can close. Then what?!? The community is faced with another empty suite and economy decreases. When did social media administrators have the right to interfere in personal lives by messaging men & women they don’t know to spread gossip or create more drama? Where is the love?
I JUST DON’T GET IT! If you are one of those people, it is time to jump off the negative train and become a better person. Surround yourself with people who lead by example and who can elevate you.
I will be the first to tell you, and if you are on the Addicted to Anthemstuff & Community FB Group page then you already know that I will NOT tolerate disrespect, malicious verbal attacks on people, or any such negativity to be posted on the social platform. I believe in power of positivity and helping others. All we ever need in our lives is Love & Support. We spend our whole lives being challenged by unexpected situations, and the last thing we need is our neighbors, clients, customers, children, adults, business owners being trashed in a vain attempt to cause humiliation and/or damage to their reputation. IT HURTS!
At the same time, it amazes me how simple it is to make your day or make someone else’s day with a simple act of kindness. If you have someone that has been there for you when you felt like your life was falling apart, someone who loves you unconditionally, someone who embraced(s) you, then take a few minutes to tell that person, take 30 seconds to text that person, send them an email or post something positive to their Facebook page. LOVE & APPRECIATION MATTERS! WE MATTER!
My only mission for this Anthem AZ Community website is so I can make a small amount of difference by sharing stories through my blogs, support local businesses, and bring the community together. #Anthemlove
Follow me onTwitter because I will be out there @AnthemAZComm (Share your news)
More blogs coming soon!
Melissa Swader is a graduate of Arizona State University where she obtained her business license before graduating ASU with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts degree. Swader comes with vast knowledge in the marketing, advertising, and graphic design business. She is also heavily involved in public relations and in 2016 was nationally recognized as one of the nation’s Top 10 Bloggers for her work in the commercial real estate industry. She is a press writer and her blogs and press statements can be found on several national media outlets today. Melissa was also a publisher and editor-in-chief for her own exclusive business magazine from 2007 - 2010 to support the local businesses in Anthem and surrounding areas in the north valley. An avid sports fan, she also created a mini-magazine within called "The Sports Zone" that highlighted sports for all the Anthem schools and the community. Melissa was the Head Girl's Basketball Coach - JV, at Boulder Creek from 2008 - 2010. Melissa was an All-Conference Point Guard in Arizona, played college basketball, and has coached on and off for 18 years. She went undefeated her first year at Boulder Creek with an 18-0 record. She has served as a small business advocate for many years and is currently the sole administrator for the Facebook Group called ‘Addicted to Anthemstuff & Community’ that focuses on bringing the local businesses & community together. You can find the latest news on Facebook @AnthemAZComm (Anthem AZ Community) Her dedication and support to the local community after 17 years is unprecedented. Her blog, “Real Talk” can also be found on her website www.anthemazcommunity.com. The website supports the Community Facebook group and the link between the two is all about sharing love for one another, supporting each other, and spreading small acts of kindness to those in the community. You can also find her on Twitter @AnthemAZComm and @azPRninja - Get the latest news - #Anthemlove
If you want to reach out to Melissa, please email her at AnthemAZCommunity@gmail.com
Award Presentation will be held in April 2018