Starting A Restaurant: The Short Guide

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. Food is something we all enjoy and if you have a niche in the restaurant business, you can make a lot of money. That said, there are certain important considerations for this class of business. The following contributed post is thus entitled, Starting A Restaurant: The Short Guide.

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There are always guides out there about starting a business, and the steps are largely the same: write a business plan, get funding, market your business and open to the public. These are the core steps that every business in every industry needs to follow. When it comes to starting a restaurant, you have all of those steps plus more.

The way that we enjoy our meals out has changed massively in the last ten years. We want new cuisines and quirkier ways to eat it. From fine dining in restaurants with a dress code, to the delicious burgers from a street food van, customers want something new. If you have the right restaurant idea and the funding, then you can bring your service to the high street, but you need to consider your time, money, legalities and the commitment that is required to be successful in this industry.

After you have decided on your concept, gained your funding and started your market research, you next need to think about the premises that you need for your business idea. This is largely down to the fact that you need to fit in people, plus a kitchen area and commercial refrigeration installation alongside dishwashers, ovens and sinks. So, while you need to consider what your restaurant looks like from the outside, none of that is any good if you have no room for what you need where the customers won’t be allowed. Your premises has to meet the expectations of your customers, your staff, your energy consumption, your ability to provide good, well-cooked food and it has to be clean, too.

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Once you have your location locked in, you need to go back to the start. Your funding has to cover everything from premises rental costs to the utilities that you pay out for. These are a huge contribution to rising business costs, and the running costs of the restaurant or food service truck are the biggest overheads for your business. Do your research properly into all of the various energy companies out there and make sure that you compare the prices across the board. You want to work well with your suppliers, and that includes your utilities suppliers, too.

An efficient food service business needs the right equipment, and we’ve already mentioned refrigeration installation, but you also have to think about the smaller apparatus that will keep your business going. You need to start researching suppliers of this equipment when you are setting out your budgets for your finances, because without the right budget in mind, you have no idea which suppliers will work for you. Customer service has to be a hugely deciding factor in choosing your suppliers. You need to know that you can work closely with them and that your restaurant is a priority for them.

Starting a restaurant isn’t going to be something that is easy, but it’s going to be so worth it if you manage to keep on top of it.

How Do You Find The Best Company For Professional Transcription Services

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. No matter which business you’re in, identifying a quality transcription service can be critical. In order to find the right one, you have to know what to look for. The following contributed post is thus entitled, How Do You Find The Best Company For Professional Transcription Services.

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From the legal industry to the medical field, there are many companies that require frequent transcription. Most find that outsourcing transcription services proves to be the best option to go for, as it is much more efficient and cost effective. Nevertheless, in order for this to truly be the case, you need to select a transcription company carefully. That is what this post is here to help you with. Keep on reading to discover the main aspects you should consider…

Turnaround Time – First and foremost, it is imperative to discover how long it will take for your transcripts to be typed up and sent back to you. One of the main benefits associated with outsourcing transcription services is the fact that you will get your transcription completed quicker and free up time to focus on the core aspect of your business. You need to ensure the company actually gives you the platform to achieve this.

Experience – You should also select a company boasting a significant degree of experience. You want to be safe in the knowledge that they have provided their transcription services many, many times before to a whole host of different companies. Make sure they specialise in your field, whether you need real time court reporting or medical transcriptions. This will give you the confidence that they will be able to handle any task you throw at them.

Cost – Of course cost is an important factor when using the services of any company. It is important to find the right balance. You don’t want to go for a company that is too cheap, as this could easily indicate a lack of quality. Nonetheless, you obviously cannot go for a company that is too expensive, as you need to be cost efficient. The best thing to do is a bit of research to determine the average prices being charged.

Reputation – In addition to the points that have already been mentioned, you should also consider the reputation of the company. Read reviews that have been left by previous customers. What do they have to say about the service they received? Were all transcriptions accurate? Did the company stick to the turnaround time? Were they easy to communicate with? This is the only way you will get the answers to the questions you truly wish to know.

Ability – Last but not least, let’s end with the most important point of them all, the company’s ability. You need to be certain that they have the capability of transcribing anything you require. On their website they should clearly outline the type of formats they can deal with, as well as any experience they have in your industry. For instance, if you are a law firm, you will want to make sure the company can transcribe anything from affidavits, to court proceedings, to witness statements.

To conclude, if you carefully consider the five points that have been mentioned in this post, you should have no issue finding the ideal company to outsource your business’s transcription services to. The benefits you will gain by doing this are certainly worth it. You will save yourself time, money, and hassle, whilst being certain that you are benefitting from a high quality service.

3 Suggestions for Setting up a Home Office

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success, and two of its key focuses are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. Many entrepreneurs must set up offices at home to carry out their operations, and this space can be critical for concentration and production. Some aspects will make your space more conducive to productivity. The following contributed post is therefore entitled, 3 Suggestions for Setting up a Home Office.

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Image via Pixabay

Whether you want to embark on an entrepreneurial path and chart your own professional destiny in life, as your own boss, or whether you just want a quiet place to sit, journal, and reflect — a home office is a fantastic and multi-dimensional gift to give yourself.

A good home office should be a place where you can shut out the concerns of the outside world, and invest yourself wholeheartedly in whatever endeavour you’re pursuing. It should be a self-enclosed dimension where you can pen that novel you’ve been working on, produce your blog posts for the next week, or even just read and absorb a book without any significant external distractions.

Of course, a good home office has certain traits. Here are some suggestions for getting your home office set up to a decent standard, in short order.

Your chair is your most important tool — choose one that you can bear to sit in for hours at a stretch

Adjustable standing desks can be a great addition to any office, since it’s good to alternate periods spent seated with periods spent on your feet and moving around, for overall health reasons. In reality, though, you are likely going to spend the vast majority of your time in your home office sitting down.

Your chair is, therefore, your most important home office tool. It has to be something that you can bear to sit in for hours at a stretch. Ideally, it will even be a pleasant experience, as much of your ability to do productive work, or absorb information, will rely on your not being simultaneously distracted by physical discomfort.

Address every aspect of what make for a good office chair. Make sure it’s well-padded. See that it has the best caster wheels for ease of movement. Check that the back support works for you.

Eliminate all distractions from the area, to the best of your ability

The famous author Stephen King has written that authors should “close the door” while working on their books — at least until the draft is ready for other eyes. In this context, he uses “close the door” both literally and figuratively, and advises aspiring authors to work in isolation, to filter out distractions, and to keep their work hidden from prying eyes during the early drafts.

Though this advice was intended for authors, it can be applied to anyone who writes, or has any sort of creative or thoughtful work to attend to, at all.

A distraction-free environment reduces procrastination, boosts productivity, and aids focus. Ensure your home office doesn’t feature TVs, videogames, or anything else of the sort.

Keep the space tidy — an organised desk (and office), means an organised mind

With the constant flow of information that we’re all exposed to, courtesy of the internet and other modern technologies, many of us suffer from chronically disordered thinking, and an inability to strategise and focus.

Keeping your home office space meticulously tidy can help to counteract this chronic low-level chaos, and aid clear thinking.

It seems to be the case, psychologically speaking, that when our immediate environments are messy, cluttered, chaotic and disordered, our thoughts come to be so as well. By contrast, an orderly, neat, and well-structured environment promotes focused and structured states of mind.

Choosing The Right System For Your Ecommerce

Three of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money, Business/Entrepreneurship and Technology. With the majority of business taking place these days via ecommerce, it’s critical to choose the right system to conduct your transactions. If this is well thought out, your ecommerce business activities can thrive. The following contributed post is thus entitled, Choosing The Right System For Your Ecommerce.

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Starting a website in the modern world is easier than ever before. There are loads of services around the web which are designed to help you to put something like this together for yourself, and most people have the basic computing skills required to get something like this done. Of course, though, when it comes to choosing the system you want to use, things can start to get a little more complicated. To help you out with this, this post will be exploring some of the key elements which need to go into this decision.

The Type Of Product

There are loads of different types of products which can be sold online, from things which are completely digital to services which are provided in person, and each of them will have a platform which is better suited to it. Digital products, for example, are really easy to manage through a system like Squarespace. Thanks to their integration with Stripe, you have a comprehensive suite of tools to help with your digital products on this platform. Of course, though, you have to think about the exact product your selling, too.

The Volume Of Sales

The amount of sales which your website is likely to handle should also influence your decision in this area. Some CMS systems are far better at collecting and organising data than others, with Magento coming out as a clear winner in this area. This means that stores which are dealing with high quantities of orders will benefit from an option like this, though you may find the customizability options a little lacking, as a result.

The External Services

Most people can’t build an ecommerce website from scratch, and will have to use some external services to help them along a little bit. You will need to make sure that the platform you choose is compatible with the services which will have to go along with it. For example, if you’re using BlueSnap to handle payments, it may be worth pairing it with WooCommerce in WordPress, as this will make the process of integrating the two systems far easier.

The Point Of Sale

Finally, as the last area to consider, a lot of small businesses are connecting their in-store point of sale systems with their ecommerce sites, nowadays, as this helps to make inventory management nice and simple. To make this work, you need to have a platform which will connect with your PoS system. WordPress is great for this, too, providing unrivalled compatibility with services like this, even compared to the likes of Shopify.

With all of this in mind, you should be feeling ready to take on the challenge of choosing the platform you use for your ecommerce website. There are loads of options to choose from when you’re working on something like this, and most people have the skills to find the best option for them; it just takes some patience and dedication. If you need more help with this, there are loads of companies around the web with the resources to push you further in this area.

Has The World Gone Crazy?

One of the focuses of my blog is Current Events and Health and Wellness. As we’re riding into the New Year, it’s clear that we’re living in unprecedented times. Everywhere we look, we see alarming things in politics and the media which seems to be trickling down into everyday life. Numerous people are being silenced in the media, and relationships are dissolving based upon differing viewpoints. The following contributed post is entitled, Has The World Gone Crazy?

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Well, you have to admit, it definitely isn’t the place it once used to be. We get that some aspects of our changing world are totally amazing, but you have to look around and wonder, would it not be better for the whole world to be plunged into an old fashioned way of thinking. There are no so many rules and regulations that we have to follow for everything, and arguments over social media and through television programmes with regards to political matters is now out of control. In a world where the governments are always fighting, and there’s a new thing that you can’t say or do each day, how can you ever find peace amongst it all? Well, we have to say it’s not easy. Because for the most part, we can’t help but think that the world has just gone crazy! Carry on reading to find out more…

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The Politicians Have Gone Mad

This is definitely something that should be said. In the UK and US for example, the politicians of their governments are steering decisions that are quickly affecting the public. In the UK, you’ve got the whole Brexit issue that only ever seems to be taking steps backwards, instead of steps forward. Politics news is often hard to follow, especially when you have so many conflicting views from the media. Even if the information isn’t exactly true, you could read articles that are full of false information, purely because they’re trying to sell the story. But for the most part, we definitely do think politicians have gone mad. The decisions they’re making is changing the course of history, and some would say completely ruining it. More and more people are saying that topics should go to a public vote more often, rather than just letting a set group of people decide it, especially in the UK.

Restrictions Are Crazy

There are now so many restrictions in life, especially over social media. Everyone is so quick to turn it into a racism issue, or gender, or anything else under the sun that you can think of. It’s now rumoured that you can’t sick the baa baa black sheep song anymore, because it could be classed as racist. Some people are now even asked for the male title of Santa Clause to be strippd, because it’s favouring on gender. Freedom of speech is slowly dying in a way, and we think the world is getting out of hand with all of the restrictions the world now has.

It’s So Hard To Find Peace

If you look around you in the world, it’s actually harder to find peace than you would think. Or perhaps you can expect that with all the acts of terrorism, gang violence, and political hate, it’s going to be hard to find peace. We think the more people who look for it and fight for it, the better place the world is going to be. So many of us rally against the wrong thing, when the main thing we should be fighting for, is peace.

Warehouse Fixes That Will Wow Your Employees

Three of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money, Business/Entrepreneurship and Technology. A key component of many businesses is its warehouse operations. An optimally functioning warehouse can make or break a business and there are several keys to running an efficient facility for your employees. The following contributed post thus entitled, Warehouse Fixes That Will Wow Your Employees.

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When business owners are looking for ways to improve and upgrade their company, most of them are mainly concerned with their office. It’s true that the office is a very important part of the business overall, but there is one other equally critical area that is so very easily overlooked – the warehouse. Every company that has a warehouse will find that it is an essential part of their operations, and ensuring that it is streamlined can really help with the company’s overall efficiency.

So, do you think that it is time you took a look at your warehouse and considered how you might be able to improve it? Here are a few ideas that you may want to consider.

Automate Processes

One of the first things that you might want to think about is automating some of the warehouses that take place in the warehouse. This can make the workload a lot more manageable for all of the employees who work there. For instance, you might want to use software that can automate the delivery notification process. So, when a customer orders something online, a quick notification will be sent to the warehouse to let everyone know that they can start the whole shipment process.

Make The Layout More Efficient

It might also be a good idea to reconsider the whole layout of your warehouse. A poorly organized warehouse can quickly become a pain to work in, and it can reduce the overall efficiency of your staff. So, make sure the layout is an easy one to work in and doesn’t promote any disorganization. It’s also necessary to try to reduce hazards by improving the layout as much as possible.

Give It A Face Lift

Do you remember when the last time you updated your warehouse was? If it hasn’t been for a while, then it could be due a bit of a facelift. You might want to install a new concrete countertop onto a workstation and it might also be time to replace any flooring that looks past its best. Keeping all of the warehouse in good working order will ensure that it stays a lot safer for a few more years to come. It can also be a much more pleasant working environment for all of your staff.

Improve Staff Training

Don’t forget that it is also essential that each of your employees gets sufficient training throughout the year. This is even the case for all your employees who are based in the warehouse. Ideally, they need at least one training session each year. However, all of the most successful companies ensure that their staff are well trained with various courses throughout the year. This ensures that they can always carry out their job to the best of their abilities and that they are up to date with all the modern warehouse practices.

If you follow all of these tips, then you should find that your warehouse processes greatly improve, and this can help you turn over a larger profit.

4 Smart Ways to Grow Your Dental Practice

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. If you’ve trained in Dentistry, eventually you may want to start your own dental practice. You will invariably be competing with other dental practices in your area and will equip yourself to best do so. The following contributed post is therefore entitled, 4 Smart Ways to Grow Your Dental Practice.

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Of all the businesses to have, a dental practice is a pretty smart one: people are always going to want to look after their teeth! However, it is true that there’s rarely only one dentist in town, and that the costs of running the business can be high. As such, it’s important that you’re always looking for ways to grow your practice. The more people there are that come through the door, the more teeth you’ll see, the more profits you’ll have. Below, we take a look at four clever ways you can begin to grow your practice.


Refine Your Marketing

Marketing your practice by dropping leaflets through the doors of the local houses will be a good start, but it shouldn’t end there. This is an approach that many businesses take, but it’s not enough – when there’s competition, simply telling people that you’re there won’t give them enough of an incentive to switch to your practice. Instead, get more sophisticated. Advertisements on the radio can be cost-effective, and if you don’t yet have a company blog, start now. It’ll boost your Google rankings and also give you a bigger platform to showcase why you’re so great.

Review Your Reviews

Running a business isn’t like having a microphone and waiting for people to hear what you’re saying. It’s a conversation. From time to time – hopefully often – your customers are going to give you feedback. What you do with that information can have a big impact on the future success of your venture. You can either ignore it, or you can listen seriously to what they’re saying, and incorporate some of their views into your plans. Your patients might just tell you exactly the direction you should be going, if you give them a chance.

A Second Location

You’ll have invested a lot of time and energy into your practice, but what if your location begins to hold you back a little? Opening a second location can breathe a lot of life into your venture, and open up your services to a whole new section of the neighborhood. Of course, there will be money considerations to factor in, so you may want to consider getting help with a loan. Remember to bring a lot of fanfare when you open. If there’s a buzz surrounding your new location, you’ll get a wave of new customers. Local newspapers will likely be interested in covering the story.

Offer More Hours

Some dental practices make a fundamental error: they only make themselves open for business during the usual working week hours, when, well, everyone is working. Now, people aren’t going to neglect their teeth forever, but they might put it off and visit less if they have to take time off work to do so. So why not make it easier for them to visit you? You could stay open late one evening during the week, or open on a Saturday once a month. Not everybody will have the flexibility to get to the dentist during your regular hours!

Niagara Falls basketball legend Carlos Bradberry discusses playing in the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one

“Our whole family, including my cousins, was a basketball family and I just grew up watching basketball.”

The first principle of my blog is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. A key aspect of creating them is hearing the stories and experiences of those who have made it to where we want to be. Like many kids, an early dream of mine was to play basketball. That dream didn’t reach fruition, but the lessons I learned playing in Section VI, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association’s western-most section, laid the groundwork for me to go on to further my education and start my career in science.

I’m currently working on a project chronicling my early basketball journey, and as a part of the research for that project, I’ve interviewed numerous Section VI basketball players and coaches from my era. On September 26, 2018, I had the honor of interviewing Carlos Bradberry – one of the many great guards in Coach Pat Monti’s LaSalle basketball dynasty. Carlos was the floor general for the Explorers following Michael Starks and Modie Cox, and then prior to the ascension of Tim Winn, Jody Crymes and Terry Rich.

In part one of this two-part interview Carlos discusses his background, how he started playing basketball, and how he became one of the legendary point guards in Section VI and the LaSalle basketball dynasty. The pictures in this interview come from an archive of Section VI basketball, carefully assembled over the years from issues of the Buffalo News, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and Section V and VI playoff programs by my first Coach at Hutch-Tech High School, Dr. Ken Jones. Other pictures were generously shared by Carlos himself, and his Head Coach at LaSalle Senior High School, Pat Monti. Click on any of the images to enlarge them.

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Anwar Dunbar: Hello, Carlos. First, thank you for telling your story. As you know I wrote some pieces on Coach Monti and Tim Winn. I’m a blogger and, as you may also know, I’m writing a book about my high school basketball experience and what that taught me about success and failure in life. The experience of high school basketball was my first attempt at effecting a personal goal and it set the stage for everything else.

To make the story as authentic as possible I wanted talk to some of the other Section VI players from that era – teammates and opponents to see what their experiences were. This is relevant because LaSalle was the premiere program in Section VI for 10-12 years and for a stretch of that, you were the guy. Also, when I started this project, I actually said to myself, ‘It would be great to interview Carlos Bradberry,’ as you were a member of the ‘All-Western New Your First Team’ during my sophomore and junior seasons.

Before we start, I have a quick story. We played your team in the 1991 Festival of Lights Tournament in the opening round. You guys handled us by about 30 points (laughing). My story is one of discovery, so I was literally figuring everything out as I went along. The day before the game, just after our Coach gave us the scouting report, one of my teammates said as we were leaving the gym, ‘We’re not going to beat LaSalle!’ I wondered how he could say such a thing. The next day as the game gradually unfolded, I saw his point (laughing). I remember you slashing to the basket repeatedly, and the announcer calling your name repeatedly. I developed a respect for you after that game and kept my eye on what you were doing.

With that, let’s start. Where is the Bradberry family from? Are you all from Niagara Falls or somewhere else?

Carlos Bradberry: My grandfather is from Alabama, but we’re for the most part, from here.

AD: Don’t you have an older brother named Cazzie?

CB: Yes. Cazzie is two years older than me. He graduated with Modie Cox, Scotty Rose, and Anthony Wallace – those guys.

AD: How old were you when you started playing basketball?

CB: I was eight or nine when I started playing in the Boys Club, which was a ‘rite of passage’ for everyone in Niagara Falls back then. It was the only thing going on. If you were anybody playing basketball, you came through the ‘Biddy Leagues’ or the Boys Club. I played for the actual Boys Club team.

AD: Was your Dad a basketball player? Did you see your older brother play and wanted to play as well, or did you just naturally want to play?

CB: I think my Dad was a good high school football and basketball player. My Dad’s playing days were done by the time I became interested in basketball. Our whole family, including my cousins, was a basketball family and I just grew up watching basketball.

My Dad used to take us to high school games when Trott-Vocational was really good back in the day. We’d go to see Trott and Niagara Falls play. That’s what really got me going and it was just a family thing. Basketball was it for my cousins and me. My cousins always played, so I was always playing with them.

AD: I think I saw in one of the Buffalo News stories that there was a Niagara Falls Senior High School player who also had the last name Bradberry. Did you have a cousin over there?

CB: I had two cousins over there – Darien and Cortez. They graduated the same year as my brother in 1991.

AD: This is fascinating because what I’m gathering is that Niagara Falls was a much smaller community compared to Buffalo which had 14 high schools and the city was bigger, so not everyone knew each other. It sounds like you guys all knew each other, and you were all playing together, even before you got to the high school level.

CB: Yes, everybody knew each other, and everybody played together. Growing up I didn’t know where I was going to play because of how they had the school districts sectioned off. I lived within walking distance to Niagara Falls Senior High School, but they bused us to LaSalle.

I was a LaSalle kid and it was miles and miles away from my house. I didn’t really know until I reached middle school – I went to LaSalle Middle School instead of Gaskill. Gaskill was the other middle school at the time, and it still is.

AD: What was it called?

CB: Gaskill. So primarily those kids went to Niagara Falls Senior High School, and the LaSalle Middle School kids obviously when to LaSalle Senior High School.

AD: I discussed the Biddy Leagues with Tim Winn. We had middle school teams in Buffalo, but it sounds like Niagara Falls did not have those. And so everyone played in the Biddy Leagues until you were ready to play in one of the two Junior Varsity (JV) programs. Were guys getting quality coaching in the Biddy Leagues or did they just throw the balls out there and let you run around?

CB: It’s funny. We always had the older guys who knew basketball. I know that Mike Hamilton, who is a referee now, coached me primarily when I was in the Biddy Leagues. He’s a real ‘basketball’ guy. There was the Boys Club, the Thirteenth Street Center, and there was another community center – so there were three to four centers and all of them basically had basketball guys in those positions. It wasn’t just guys showing up off the street and wanting to coach their kids or something.

AD: That’s fascinating, because I think the coaching, we had in Buffalo was really varied. Which players did you look up to in college or pro?

CB: I’m showing my age here but growing up I was a huge Dr. J guy when I started watching basketball, and then I was a Jordan guy obviously. Allen Iverson was more my age, so he was my favorite player once I got older. But at the time I didn’t know much about him because we were around the same age. I also have a weird one. My favorite college player was Greg Anthony. Most people would say, ‘Who?’ Greg Anthony was my favorite player back when the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) had those great college teams. I wore number 50 which was an odd number for a guard, but that’s why I wore that number in high school.

AD: Yes, I remember you wearing that number. So, you had your eyes on the college teams. That’s interesting because Tim told me that he had his eyes on the Niagara Falls high school basketball teams, for the most part.

CB: As far as when I was younger, Modie was a couple of years older than me, so he was more like a peer. There was a guy named Mike Starks who played for LaSalle – he was amazing and one of the best guards that no one ever talks about. When I started going to LaSalle games, I was in the sixth and seventh grades. Me and my buddies would just go to games. We wanted to be the next Mike Starks. He was the guy that I looked up to around here basketball-wise.

AD: What was special about Michael’s game? Could he do everything?

CB: Man, he could do everything. He was 6’3”. He could jump, he could shoot, and he could handle the ball. He was the point guard and his game was rare back then. Your point guard was the guy to set guys up, but man he could shoot, he could get to the basket, and he could jump – he had the whole package.

AD: Okay. So that was the 1988 Class B Federation Championship team. It was loaded then because they had guys like Eric Gore.

CB: Yes, Eric Gore, Frank and Michael Starks, Elon McCracken, and Modie (he was young).

AD: Well obviously, you had Christian Laettner in the Niagara Frontier League (NFL) then, but were you aware of any of the Buffalo guys like Ritchie Campbell and Marcus Whitfield?

CB: Ritchie and Marcus were the two guys I’d always hear about in seventh grade and that’s when I started to play for LaSalle. Those dudes were amazing!

AD: And the JV team – Coach Rotundo oversaw that?

CB: Yep.

AD: Early on, what kind of player were you? Coach Monti described you as a ‘scoring’ guard. Were you that right away or did you have to grow into that role?

CB: I always thought I was a scorer and that was always my mentality, ever since I was younger. In my freshman year, I started on the JV team and was moved up midway through the season to play on the Varsity team. I knew that I wasn’t going to be a bigtime scorer on the Varsity level as a freshman or as a sophomore, because we just had so many senior guys.

I was a starter, but Coach Monti let you know your role. It’s something that’s lost today. Kids don’t have roles today and everyone thinks they’re a scorer and a star. I had to earn my minutes and if I got an open shot, I was happy because I knew that it was Modie’s, Milo’s, and Duke’s team, and I was there to play my role.

AD: What was your role? Was it to play defense on the other team’s best guy?

CB: No, I wasn’t the greatest defender, especially when I was in the ninth grade (laughing). He brought me in for offense as a freshman and I may have averaged around nine points a game or something which was decent back then. He basically brought me in and let me know that, ‘Hey, you’re basically here to score when the chance comes,’ so more than anything I was there to help offensively.

AD: Talk about playing for Coach Monti. After talking with him, I got the impression that he was very, very intense.

CB: Oh yeah. Very intense. Intense, but giving great attention to detail was his greatest asset. You never went into a game unprepared. You knew what was going to happen and you were either prepared through game plans he spent a bunch of time on, or you were prepared because of what we practiced and worked on every day.

There were things that he did that had me college-ready that I know other high schools weren’t doing at that time like defensively, positioning off the ball, how you play ‘one pass away’ and ‘two passes away’. Coaches around here weren’t teaching that. Everything was tight. Again, not knocking any of the college coaches. I played at two Division I schools and I always say that Coach Monti was the most knowledgeable coach that I’ve ever played for!

AD: Wow. Well let’s talk some ‘Xs and Os’. You said that you were brought on as a freshman and your role was to score. Coach Monti described LaSalle’s offense as unselfish – everyone sharing the ball. Tim basically did too. From the outside looking in, you seemed to be the featured guy. Were you guys running a ‘motion’ offense or were you running an ‘isolation’ for someone?

CB: I know it changed during Tim’s years and he let those guys ‘freelance’ more. Basically, our main offense in my freshman through my senior years was called “Flex”, which is a ‘dinosaur’ offense now, as no one really runs it anymore. It’s about ball movement, body movement, setting picks for each other. You were working with each other and there wasn’t a lot of ‘one on one’ stuff. It was basically five guys working together, and it was weird when we wouldn’t get open looks. Flex was one offense, but there were a million different ‘wrinkles’ in it.

So, it wasn’t like, ‘Okay here’s this one offense and if this one thing doesn’t work we’re shutdown.’ It was more like, ‘Okay, they took this away, so here’s the next option…..’ There were always four to five options to that one set where something was going to be open. That was our base offense for four years. We did a little bit of some other things, but we spent a ton of time on Flex and its different options and it worked for us.

AD: Before we move on, you got moved up as a freshman. Were all the guys you graduated with in the same group? I’m referring to guys like Curtis Ralands, Chris Frank, Todd Guetta and O’Neal Barnett – all the guys who were on the Varsity team when you were a junior and a senior. Were all of you on the JV team and you got moved up first? Or was it a gradual thing?

CB: I went up in the ninth grade. I don’t think the other guys came up until the eleventh grade. Shino Ellis may have played on the Varsity team in the tenth grade if I’m not mistaken – he was a year older than me. Todd, Chris, Curtis and those guys all came up in the eleventh grade. Curtis came over from Niagara Falls Senior High School, which was a boost for us. He played JV there and then ended up at LaSalle in the eleventh grade.

AD: What was so special about Curtis coming over? I remember the goggles, the bald head, and the intensity, but what would you say was his major contribution?

CB: Curtis was like our ‘enforcer’. He brought toughness to our team. He didn’t care if he scored 1 point or 20. He was going to do all the dirty work: rebounding the ball, defending and taking charges. He was definitely a Dennis Rodman-type.

AD: So you had your role as a freshman. Was it the same as a sophomore or did Coach Monti give you more ‘leash’?

CB: As a tenth grader I started the whole year. I had more leash, but it still obviously wasn’t my team. That year Modie, Cazzie, Scotty Rose, Anthony Wallace and myself were the starting five I believe. I had a larger role on offense and I think I was depended upon more to score because Modie was our guy – he was great at distributing – he was a pure point guard. If you ran the floor, you were going to get a bucket. Scotty played a lot more ‘down low’ and was probably our second leading scorer after Modie. On the wing I think I was our next guy, so I had a much bigger role in my sophomore year within the offense.

AD: That’s awesome. So, you got a lot of quality minutes early on. Were you there against Lancaster, and in the Far West Regionals against schools like East and McQuaid?

CB: Our 86-57 loss to McQuaid was the worst I’d ever taken in high school.

AD: What was so bad about it? Did you guys just have an off day?

CB: We had an off day and they had the big 7’ kid – I think his name was McKinney or something. They had size, but they also had these guards who were coming down and pulling up a step beyond NBA range. We just weren’t seeing that in our area in Section VI. It almost seemed like the perfect game for them and the worst game for us. Anything they shot up went in and it just snowballed on us. It was the worst game I’d played in as far as taking a loss in high school.

AD: So that was your sophomore year. Before you talk about your junior year, what kinds of things were you guys doing in the offseason? I know that was before Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) basketball got big.

CB: I can’t remember if I went to a camp that year or the next year. It was more so playing locally. There was the big travel-AAU type of thing. We’d go down to Philadelphia and play against Rasheed Wallace who went to North Carolina, and the Jason Lawson kid who went to Villanova. The Public Athletic League (PAL) tournaments used to be huge back then. The Head Coach at Niagara Falls High School now, Sal, was the one taking us on all the PAL trips back then. You played Division I guys from other cities, and that was sort of our AAU-thing back then.

AD: You said Sal?

CB: Yes, Sal Constantino. He was the PAL guy who took us on those trips to the big PAL tournaments back then which were huge.

AD: Going into your junior year, Modie and his fellow seniors graduated so it was basically your team. What was your mentality going into that year?

CB: I knew what we had, and not being cocky, but I thought we were going to be very good. A lot of people didn’t know what we had, but I knew. We had Shino, Todd, Curtis and Chris Frank – we had guys who could play basketball. But our Varsity program was so good that those guys didn’t get a chance to play yet. Our JV teams were awesome, they got awesome coaching and they came out of the system, so we had guys who could really play basketball. Now, we wound up losing only one game. I didn’t think we were going to be that good, but we had a good run until we played John Wallace.

AD: Okay, we’re going to get to John Wallace and Greece-Athena shortly (laughing). Your team ran mostly the Flex offense, but it seemed like you were the guy. You were LaSalle’s leading scorer. Was that just something the team understood – that you would be the number one option – or did Coach Monti make that explicitly clear from day one?

CB: Coach Monti made no reservations about letting guys know their roles. It was, ‘Shino and Carlos are going to be our two scorers and everyone else is going to fit in where we fit them in!’ We had a guy named O’Neal Barnett who knew that he was going to come in and defend our opponent’s best guy. Some nights he’d score 2 points and some nights he’s score 10 points, but he could care less. He knew that he was going to come in and lock down our next guy and he was fine with that.

We had Curtis who knew that he was going to come in and just grab every rebound. Coach Monti would have talks at the beginning of the year, and the middle of the year. There wasn’t any question of who was going to be doing what or what their role was. It was laid out and you knew what was going to happen.

AD: Wow. So everyone accepted their roles.

CB: Yes, everybody bought in and I think that’s just because of the success of the program. If you’re winning every year, it’s easy to sell that to kids. If he was losing every year, I don’t think it would’ve happened.

AD: So you guys went on to go 23-0. You beat us, and you started that year winning the Corning Cup in Albany, NY and, Carlos, I’ve got a funny story. Were you a trash-talker? The reason I’m asking is because in the Class B-1 quarterfinal in 1992, we matched up with the Niagara Falls Power Cats at LaSalle’s gym. In the lobby, the trophy case had individual polaroids of you and your teammates standing there posing in each of photos because you were undefeated at that point and riding a lot of momentum.

One of our seniors – this a true story – saw your picture in the case and he said, ‘Man. I can’t stand that Bleepedy-Bleep!’ I looked at your picture and I looked at him, and I said to myself, ‘This person must’ve have been guarding Carlos Bradberry when we played LaSalle, and maybe Carlos was jawing at him.

CB: Yeah, (laughing) I was, and I forgot to mention that another one of my favorite players was Gary Payton. You watch him play and you’re going to pick up some things from him. It’s funny because Coach Monti used to say that I was this quiet and reserved guy, but once I got on the court it was different. I was a different animal and I’d consider myself a trash-talker for sure.

AD: Now, was that you or was Coach Monti rubbing off on you? I got the sense that he was very, very confident and I imagine that was contagious.

CB: I think it was just me. It was never predetermined or preplanned, and once you get into that moment you get so focused and lose yourself on the basketball court. I was raised with a bunch of uncles and cousins who were hard on me. We went to the basketball court and they’re talking junk to you, they’re beating up on you, and you learn how to be tough and not back down and that’s how it manifested itself for me.

AD: In the 1992 Class B-1 Sectional Final at UB’s Alumni Arena, we had just lost to Grand Island and as we were exiting the court, your team came charging out in a single-file line. You were at the front, and I remember reaching out and ‘dapping’ you up. You had the ball in one hand, saw me and we slapped hands and then you went into your pregame warmup before going on to defeat Williamsville North that night 62-52.

After defeating Williamsville North, your team advanced to the Far West Regional against Section V’s Class A Champion, Greece-Athena from the Rochester area. They were also 23-0 and they were calling the game the “Meeting of the Perfect Strangers”. Rochester is basically our ‘sister’ city and it’s only an hour away. Did you know about John Wallace ahead of time?

CB: I heard of him, but social media wasn’t big back then so I may have heard his name, but I didn’t know him like that until Coach Monti showed the video and we started to scout for them and I was like, ‘HOLY COW!’ It was ridiculous what you were watching. But no, I didn’t really have a beat on the Rochester and Syracuse guys. I just knew the Niagara Falls and Buffalo guys.

AD: So the team was able to watch the film before the game. What stood out to you?

CB: He was dunking on everybody. He was blocking everybody’s shot. For me it was exciting because I knew that we would get into it at some point during the game, because it was in my competitive nature and his. We did get into it at some point, but I hadn’t played against anything like that personally in our area. We didn’t have a guy like that, so seeing him on video – what he was doing at 6’9” was ridiculous. Back then, 6’9” guys weren’t popping out shooting jump shots like he was, and going ‘inside-out’. I just knew we were going to have our hands full.

AD: Yes, there weren’t any big men like that here. Well actually, weren’t Kevin Sanford and Eric Eberz at that level?

CB: Yes, Kevin was close. Maybe I played against him in a few leagues, but I never played against him in a real high school basketball game and didn’t see him much. So it was just different seeing that.

AD: Leading up to the game, did you have ‘butterflies’? Or did it feel like this was just another game?

CB: I think our whole team was confident, but we all had butterflies every single game. That game was no different and I think we all went in thinking that we had the game plan and that we would win it. Somehow someway we were going to make it happen. We did for a half (laughing).

AD: When you guys went out for the jump ball, you saw that he had “DA MAN” cut on the back of his head (laughing). You know what’s funny, is that both Coach Monti and Tim Winn mentioned that with a bit of snark. So the fact that he cut that on the back of his head, even 25 years later, really seemed to stick with them. In general, did that strike you as being arrogant?

CB: Oh, I was pissed off and Coach Monti made a point of it too. He’d play mind games with us to piss us off. He’d say, ‘Look at this guy. He’s got DA MAN on the back of his head!’ I was ready to go nuts just when I saw him. I was thinking this dude thinks he’s really that guy. I got enraged before the game because we were all sitting in the stands watching the game before ours and he’s laying down sleeping in the stands! I’m going nuts saying, ‘Look at this dude, he’s over there sleeping, and he’s got play us!’ Everything he did made me go sort of nuts, but he backed everything up though.

AD: One last question about the game. As Coach Monti pointed out, you guys were right there with Greece-Athena for three quarters and it was close. What happened?

CB: As I remember it, and Coach Monti probably has a better memory than me, I think we were either down two or tied at the half and I know that at that time Greece-Athena was playing us in a regular “man to man” defense. If they had done that for the rest of the game they would’ve lost. At the half, I think we had 27 points. I had 10 points and Shino had 15, so we had 25 of our 27 points.

Their Coach did a great job and came out in a “Triangle and Two” on Shino and me, so we didn’t score a point in the second half; they basically took us away. Our other guys got the open looks and shots we wanted, but they just didn’t fall. Their Coach wasn’t going to let Shino or me win that game that night. I kicked myself numerous times afterwards wondering what I could’ve done to be more aggressive and if Shino and I could’ve done more. But the fact of the matter is that it was a good move for their Coach and it worked out for them that night.

AD: You know, I taped that game. I watched it at home and, unfortunately, didn’t go. After watching it and thinking about how you guys beat us handily all summer long, I thought about how I wanted to get on the court and play against you the next year. First, I got injured and secondly, they flipped the brackets. So we opened against Niagara Falls Senior High School in the Festival of Lights Tournament. They narrowly beat us and you played them again while we played in the consolation game again against Bennett. I’m not sure how much of a difference I would’ve made (laughing), but I was at least looking forward to getting on the court with you.

In part two of this interview, Carlos talks about his senior year at LaSalle, his college career, and then life after basketball. Thank you for taking the time to read this interview. If you enjoyed it, you might also enjoy:

Niagara Falls basketball legend Time Winn discusses playing in the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Niagara Falls Coaching Legend Pat Monti discusses building, and leading the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Jason Rowe discusses Buffalo Traditional Basketball, the Yale Cup and State Tournaments
Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Reflections on three years of basketball camp
Lasting Lessons basketball taught me: An introduction

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Forever Local: Remembering Your Roots In Business

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. Most businesses once they grow, need to change geographic locations. It’s important though not to completely leave your location of origin and leave some of your operations there. The following contributed post is thus entitled, Forever Local: Remembering Your Roots In Business.

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When a business finds success and begins to grow, it is very rare that they will remain in the same place that they started. In the pursuit of better opportunities, employees, and even property, companies will move far and wide when they are becoming something larger. Of course, though, the place your venture originally called home shouldn’t lose its importance simply because you’ve moved on. The people in this area helped to drive your early years, and this makes it worth working to give something back.

One of the very best ways to achieve this goal is by keeping a portion of your business where it started. While this could cost more or prevent you from accessing certain services, it will provide the locals with jobs which they could be in dire need of. It will stimulate the economy, giving other small businesses the chance to flourish, while also making public services, like education, just a little bit better. Not a lot of people consider the impact a single business can have. In reality, though, an organisation like this can drive a town by simply doing its job, making this a great way to contribute without making a special effort. As time goes on, the importance of this sort of act will become far more clear.

Of course, though, it may not be feasible for you to remain in your home area, especially once your company becomes too large. In this case, you won’t be out of options to help you to give back, but you will have to be a little more active in your approach. Most cities and towns will have their own sports teams, schools, and other efforts which don’t get enough support. By sponsoring these groups, you can provide much-needed resources to people who would otherwise simply have to live without. This may seem like a small gesture, but it can have a real impact on a place, bringing people together and opening the doors for greater inclusivity.

Life isn’t always easy, and a lot of places around the world are feeling the impact of climate change, at the moment. With homes being destroyed, people finding themselves displaced, and help hard to come by, natural disasters can have a devastating effect on your local area. Cane Bay Partners make a great example in this sort of case, supporting their home Island, St. Croix, by providing aid. People often need all sorts of help in times like this, ranging from food and water to medical care. When you have a business behind you, you have the chance to provide far more than an individual can.

With this in mind, you should be feeling inspired to go back to your roots a little bit with your business. Of course, while this is a great way to show your appreciation, it is always down to you to choose whether or not you’d like to do this. Not a lot of people have the chance to give back like this, making this a great opportunity.

Knowing and Upholding Your Rights in the Workplace

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success and a key focus is Career Discussions. Employment is not a one way street and no matter which career you choose, you do have certain rights when you start. It’s important the know what those rights are when you start. The following contributed post is thus entitled, Knowing and Upholding Your Rights in the Workplace.

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When you work for someone else, you are essentially allowing them to profit from your hard work. However, there are so many benefits that come hand in hand with being employed that the majority of us are happy to take on this kind of position within a company. You have contracted working hours which means regular, stable wages that you can build your life around. You receive pay when you are sick or when you need to take parental leave. You receive annual leave, so you can have a little time off each year without worrying about losing money. Perhaps the most important benefit is having rights as an employee regarding your health and safety that must be upheld, meaning you can feel safe each day when you head to work. Now, most employers keep up with this of their own accord. But if your employer isn’t sticking to rules and regulations, you need to speak out and ensure that your rights are upheld. This can be daunting, but you cannot be punished or reprimanded for demanding what you are entitled to. So, here are some areas to focus on!

A Safe Workplace

First and foremost, you have the right to work in a safe space. Your workplace shouldn’t pose any threat or risk to you, your health and wellbeing. Your employer will have to conduct all sorts of checks to guarantee this. If potential threats are present but can’t be changed, measures should be taken to alert you to them. If there’s a low ceiling, a sign should be fitted ahead of it in order to warn you to mind your head. If there’s a small step that can’t be removed, a “mind the step” sign should clearly be displayed.

Relevant Training

Regardless of what role you are carrying out, your employer should ensure that you are fully trained to be able to carry it out safely. If you work in retail and need to lift heavy items and move them from store rooms to the shop floor, you should receive training in how to do this. It may sound like something straightforward and basic, but if you lift things in the wrong way, you could become injured. If you work in construction, you should have training in every aspect of the jobs that you need to carry out. If you don’t and are then hurt during construction, you will be able to seek legal aid and receive compensation.

Regularly Updated Risk Assessments

Your employer should carry out risk assessments associated with every aspect of your role. If something is a “risk” it means that there’s a chance that you could be injured or harmed while engaging with it. Your employer should then take measures to remove this risk before you are put to work.

These are just a few of the different rights that you have in the workplace. Make sure that your employer is upholding them at all times! This is for your own sake and others’ sake!