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It's New Orleans: Out to Lunch
39 minutes | Nov 16, 2022
The Birthplace of Work/Life Balance
People who come to New Orleans as visitors often spend most of their time in the French Quarter and pack their stay with excessive indulgence. They start drinking way earlier in the day than they do at home. They stay out way later at night than they do at home. And they eat meal after meal of New Orleans’ specialty dishes, laden with cream, butter, and fried everything. If you talk to any of these folks on their way out of town, they’ll typically look at you with the kind of reverence normally reserved for endurance sports champions, and say something like, “Man, I don’t know how you live here.” We who live here tend to respond with the explanation that the French Quarter is filled tourists. Locals don’t eat, drink and party like that. Have you been to Arnaud’s restaurant in the French Quarter? They’ve been there since 1918 and built their reputation on serving a vast menu of French Creole fine dining - including 9 different oyster appetizers, 51 seafood entrees, 40 different vegetable sides, including 16 different types of potatoes. Arnaud’s is massive. It’s an amalgamation of what was originally 13 different buildings. There’s a jazz bistro, two bars, and the main dining room seats 950 people. Yes, 950. And here’s the kicker. The place is typically packed. With locals. Don’t tell your tourist friends who you’re trying to impress that you live an upright, healthy lifestyle, but there’s more than a good chance you or someone you know has plans to go to Arnaud’s - for a rehearsal dinner, a wedding, or just because it’s Friday. Since 1918 Arnaud’s has been owned and run by two families. First the family of the founder and namesake, Arnaud Cazenave, and since 1978 by members of the Casbarian family. The current Casbarians are brother and sister Archie Jr and Katie, and their mom Jane. French Creole fine dining is all well and good, but you can’t eat like that every day. And especially if you’re an athlete. Not just a professional athlete. Anyone who takes fitness seriously also takes their diet seriously. If you’re a professional athlete, you have access to dietitians and nutritionists who craft specific meal plans for you - to maximize your strengths, and help bolster any deficiencies you might naturally have. For the rest of us, here’s some good news. You no longer have to figure out your sports diet on Google. You can download an app called Eat 2 Win, the product of a company called My Sports Dietitian. My Sports Dietitian is set up to give everyone in sports – from high school coaches to individual amateur athletes – the same access to specialized dietary and nutrition advice the pros get. The co-founder of My Sports Dietitian and the Eat 2 Win app is Ronnie Harper. We hear a lot these days about work/life balance. The acknowledgement that there’s more to life than work and money. The point being, if you want to be happy, you need to prioritize happiness. Apparently, the rest of the country just figured out what we’ve known for generations in New Orleans. It’s part of the reason living here is so attractive. And so different from anywhere else in the US. We don’t think there’s anything strange about wearing a costume, or going to work on Monday morning and partying with our boss and colleagues at The Maple Leaf on Monday night. Similarly, we accept as matter of fact that we can live a healthy life, subscribe to a sports diet from My Sports Dietitian, and occasionally indulge ourselves with dinner and drinks at Arnaud’s without having a melt-down guilt trip about it. Because, in New Orleans, that’s life. In any other city Archie Casbarian Jr, and Ronnie Harper might be regarded as being at opposite ends of the spectrum. In New Orleans, they’re two sides of a coin. Probably a doubloon. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27 minutes | Nov 8, 2022
In New Orleans, we’re big on tradition. We believe that doing things the same way they’ve been done for generations keeps us connected to our history and maintains the grandness of the city that our forebears created. But there’s a difference between tradition and habit. That difference can be knowledge. For example, in the 1950’s if you, your parents, and grandparents all smoked cigarettes, you might have called yourselves “a traditional tobacco family.” Now that we know smoking is the cause of seriously life-limiting medical conditions, you’d be more apt to describe that family as having a bad smoking habit. Which brings us to Mardi Gras. Wait, what? If you’ve lived in New Orleans for any time and you go to Mardi Gras parades, you’ve probably caught or thrown hundreds, if not thousands, of Mardi Gras beads. Mostly manufactured in China, these plastic beads are allegedly made from unregulated petroleum products and reportedly contain unhealthful levels of lead, arsenic, and other chemicals you don’t want your kids anywhere near. Are Mardi Gras Beads as bad for you as cigarettes?! We put that question to Brett Davis. And we're betting you can guess the answer. Brett is Director of an organization called Grounds Krewe. Grounds Krewe’s mission is to make New Orleans events sustainable by diminishing waste and instituting recycling wherever possible. When it comes to Mardi Gras, Grounds Krewe’s aim is to get us to replace plastic beads - and other toxic throws - with sustainable throws that are local, healthful, and as affordable as the ubiquitous, Chinese, plastic beads. Now let’s move on to another mainstay of the New Orleans economy in which there’s a blurred line between tradition and habit: the music business. The traditional way the music business is structured in New Orleans tends to financially benefit purveyors of alcohol more than the creators and performers of music. That’s because we have a very robust live music culture that’s centered mostly in bars. Unlike other music-centric cities - like Nashville and Austin - we don’t have a similarly robust allied music economy. If you’re a New Orleanian and you want a high-level career as a music business attorney, agent, manager, song writer or recording artist, you’re in the same position locals in other businesses were in till recently. That is, you have to leave New Orleans. Think about that for a moment. You live in a city people come to specifically to hear music. But to be truly successful in the music business you have to leave. This tradition has been going on for some time. Louis Armstrong left New Orleans to make it. So did Lil Wayne. Winton Marsalis. Jon Batiste. Evan Christopher. Harry Connick Jr. Davell Crawford. Nicholas Payton. No Limit Records left. Cash Money Records left. Daniel Lanois, Lenny Kravitz, Trent Reznor, and Ray Davies from The Kinks all moved their music operations here, then left. You could argue that Winton Marsalis had to leave here for his prestigious job as Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Jon Batiste had to leave here to be music director on The Tonight Show. But that’s the whole point. We’re the birthplace of jazz but we don’t have a jazz institute. And we don’t have the infrastructure a national TV show needs to originate from here. At what point do we go from regarding this talent-emigration as a tradition, to calling it a habit - and do something about breaking it? Best-selling songwriter Jim McCormick knows as much as anybody about finding an answer to this question. Jim is a New Orleans native who left. He went to Nashville for 15 years. Then he came back. Jim has written a string of hit songs for artists like Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Kelly Clarkson, Brantley Gilbert, and many more. He's been nominated for a Grammy 5 times. He’s had 3 songs hit number one on the Billboard country chart. And he’s done much of that while living in Orleans parish. It’s easy to keep doing things the way we’ve always done them. It feels good to label ourselves as the home of Mardi Gras, because Mardi Gras is amazing - if it doesn’t bring a smile to your face probably nothing will. And we’re justifiably proud of New Orleans being a place where you can hear enormously talented musicians all around town, every night. None of this has to stop. But it can change. What’s already good can be better. And what are now just hopes, dreams and visions can become reality. We can have a healthy Mardi Gras that’s safe for everybody. And we can have a robust music business that makes money for musicians and everybody else in the chain of music marketing. But none of that is going to magically just happen. For things to change it takes people like Brett and Jim, giving us the benefit of their knowledge, experience, and passion for the city of New Orleans. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworeans.com. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
35 minutes | Nov 2, 2022
If you have a business that depends on sales, you can try and sell everything to everybody, like Walmart. But seeing there’s almost no way on earth you can compete with Walmart, you need to come up with a more niche approach. Having a unique product and finding people who need it is the pathway to success. Supply and demand. Simple enough, right? Well, it might have been, when that meant opening a store on main street. Or buying an ad in the Yellow Pages. (If you’re under 40 you’re going to have to Google “yellow pages” - and even then it probably won’t make sense.) My lunch guests today are both in fields that have been upended by technology: photography, and book sales. Amazon rewrote the rules on how people buy books. And the smart-phone and Instagram have turned everybody into a photographer. Within these crowded spaces, both of my guests, Olivia Grey Pritchard and Candice Huber, have successfully carved out their own markets. Candice is the owner of Tubby & Coo’s MidCity Bookshop. It’s been around since 2014. If you’re saying, “What? I live in New Orleans and I’ve never heard of it,” it might just mean you don’t read the kind of books they sell. Tubby & Coo’s describe themselves as a “Local, queer-owned, progressive, nerdy, independent bookshop focused on science fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, queer, and diverse books”. We’ve talked here before about how the career of professional photographer has been battered by the extraordinary number of amateur photographers in the world – everybody who owns a cell phone – and the ease with which photographers’ work is stolen off the internet. Olivia Grey Pritchard has figured out a way to succeed as a photographer in this tough environment. Part of Olivia’s success is centered on educating other photographers on how to run a successful photography business. She teaches online classes and conducts mentoring sessions for professional photographers. And in her own photography work, Olivia delivers more than just digital files of photos. If you hire Olivia to be your photographer, you end up with a piece of framed wall art, an archival-quality photo album, or a unique family movie. As a consumer, it’s frustrating to look for something you want, and not be able to find it. Since the Covid pandemic gave rise to an inexplicable labor shortage, and choked supply chains, almost everybody has had a taste of this kind of frustration. But for some people, this frustration has been going on for a lot longer. If you’re a person who has a particular taste in books and you can never find quite what you’re looking for, Tubby & Coo’s MidCity Bookshop is a refreshing oasis. And, in a world where we’re bombarded by images that only last a fraction of a second before we swipe or scroll them away forever, being able to have a photo of your family, yourself, or even your dog, that’s good enough to frame and hang on your wall is equally refreshing. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29 minutes | Oct 25, 2022
When we’re confronted with a challenging task, we reassure ourselves it’s probably achievable by saying, “Well, it’s not brain surgery.” We say this because every single thing created by humans – from the sewer system to satellites - ultimately came from the human brain. And yet how the brain works remains among the most vexing and mysterious elements of our existence. Of course, not all humans are created equal. There is a small group of men and women for whom the human brain is not a complete mystery. These folks devote their professional lives to understanding and unravelling its secrets. One of these neuroscientists lives and works in New Orleans. Dr. Nicolas Bazan is the founding director of the Neuroscience Center of Excellence at LSU’s Health Sciences Center. He leads a team of 90 researchers in areas ranging from Parkinson’s Disease to Traumatic Brain Injury. Dr Bazan’s team publishes multiple research findings each year. And Dr Bazan himself is the holder of around 120 patents in the area of neuroscience and the treatment of neurological disorders. Notable even among all his other achievements in the field, Dr Bazan is the discoverer of a new class of biochemicals found in the brain, known as ELV’s. In 2018, a year after he made this discovery, Dr. Bazan founded a local company, NeuResto Therapeutics, to research and develop the use of ELV’s in the treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury and stroke. If you’ve ever been in the hospital, or have visited anyone who’s a hospital patient, you’ll be familiar with an IV. Typically, one of the first things that happens to you as a hospital patient - or even in an ambulance on the way to the hospital – is you get an IV line inserted into your arm or hand. The reason for that is, intra-venous – which is what IV stands for – it means basically straight-into-the-vein - is the most efficient method of delivering fluids or drugs to someone who needs them. But delivering drugs to a patient through an IV is not an exact science. It relies on a human operator getting it right. In light of that, here are some sobering statistics. Medical errors are reportedly the 3rd leading cause of death in the US, after heart disease and cancer. 73% of medication errors involve what’s called “push doses.” A “push” is the rate that a person administers a drug through an IV. 95% of IV push errors are the result of the drug being administered too quickly. That’s why Tonia Aiken has invented a device she calls SafePush - which is also the name of her company. SafePush, the device, is a small, disposable piece of equipment that fits on the tip of a syringe or an IV and precisely regulates the flow of a drug in a way that doesn’t let the person administering the dose push it any faster than the set rate. SafePush, the company, was launched in 2019 and is looking at potential market of 137 million devices per year. The cost of the device is $20 - about the same as a large pizza. 137 million-times-twenty is a lot of pizza. At some point we’re going to have recalibrate how we think about and describe New Orleans. As well as describing ourselves as the home of Mardi Gras and the Hurricane, we could equally legitimately call ourselves something like, “world leader in medicine and medical technology.” Nicolas Bazan and Tonia Aiken enjoy Mardi Gras and cocktails as much as the rest of us (Tonia was Queen of Krewe du Vieux!), but they're giving us a whole other reason to be proud of living here. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
31 minutes | Oct 11, 2022
Not Drowning, Clowning
We’re all too familiar with horrific news stories about school shootings, teenage drug overdoses, and social-media-driven teen suicide. But these aren’t actually the country’s biggest causes of childhood death. The leading cause of death in children aged 1-14, after vehicle crashes, is drowning. Although we’re deeply divided about how best to solve the issues of adolescent gun violence and drug abuse, the cure for saving kids from drowning is obvious: Kids need to learn to swim. In some countries, like Australia and New Zealand, learning to swim is a mandatory part of the elementary school curriculum. Not so in the United States. Here, an average of 11 kids a day die from downing. Kaci McGuire is doing everything she can to correct this situation. Kaci is the founder of Safe Swim, a swim school she launched in New Orleans in 2020 whose 6 instructors give swim lessons to people of all ages and abilities, starting with kids as young as 4 months. When a child is sick enough to be admitted to the hospital, days or weeks confined to bed can feel like they drag on forever. Unlike adults, kids don’t have the life-skills to deal with the stress, anxiety and depression that can accompany a hospital stay. Not only does this make a kid’s daily life in the hospital miserable, it can also impede their medical progress. Multiple studies have found that a healthy mental and emotional attitude aids with recovery from illness. So, given that children typically can’t call on coping mechanisms like yoga and meditation to improve their mental and emotional state, what can they do? Becca Chapman has the answer. Becca is co-founder & Executive Director of Prescription Joy. Prescription Joy are healthcare clowns. Yes, actual clowns. With goofy outfits, and props like rubber chickens and toilet-plungers. Prescription Joy is a member of the North American Federation of Healthcare Clowning, whose members include The Laughter League at Boston Children’s Hospital and The Clown Care Team at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Healthcare clowning is, indeed, a serious business. Of all the behavioral aspects of our American society that have changed over the past few generations, little has changed more markedly than our perception of childhood. We used to believe that childhood was just an inconvenient period we were forced to endure until small humans got big enough to function independently and join the workforce. Today, we realize that perception is ill-informed. We now recognize the value of child development, and the relationship between our childhood experiences and our happiness as adults. As we further break down childhood into its component parts, we appreciate how a single childhood experience can reverberate through our lives and make a world of difference. Something as seemingly innocuous as a joyous hour with a healthcare clown, or as simple as a swim lesson, can change or even save a life. Kaci and Becca are quietly contributing to the betterment of the lives of New Orleans’ childhood inhabitants, and the rest of us too. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
32 minutes | Oct 4, 2022
Count Us In
If you spend any time working with colleagues on Zoom, or other video platforms, you know there is one main goal all these products are trying to achieve: Real-time collaboration. You’re sitting at your desk, or kitchen table, and your colleagues are scattered around the country, or the world. But the conversation, the screen, and the whiteboard you’re sharing is meant to create the sense that you’re all in the same room. When you actually are in the same room as another person, unless that person is a ventriloquist, when their lips move, words come out of their mouth at the exact same moment. When you’re on a video call, the sound of someone’s voice frequently reaches you either before or after you see their lips moving. We generally call this, “out of sync.” The technical term for it is, “latency.” Latency can be aggravating. But you put up with it, because in conversation, it’s not that big of a deal. But imagine instead of talking to other people, you’re playing music with them. You’re in your home studio playing a keyboard part. Another person is in their home studio playing a drum part. A third person somewhere else is playing a guitar part. And a fourth person in a 4th location has a vocal track. In this case, latency is not merely an aggravation, it’s a monumental issue. Everybody being out of sync with each other makes it impossible to create music together. That’s why musicians never collaborate online in real time. The best they can do is record their individual tracks and send them back and forward to each other, each person contributing their part one at a time. It takes days or weeks to complete a single song. If there was a way for musicians to meet online and play together, whoever invented the software that could make that happen would be a superstar in the world of music creation. Well, today that software has a name. It’s called DAWn Audio. And the four superstars who created it are right here in New Orleans - including co-founder and CEO of DAWn Audio, Diego Pinzon. Most of us in New Orleans enjoy live music collaboration – but as consumers rather than creators. At live music events there is a very obvious dividing line between creators and consumers. More typically know as “the band” and “the audience.” The band is on stage, and the audience is on the floor, facing them. Other than yelling “Who let the dogs out?” at a Saints game, or singing Christmas carols in Jackson Square, it’s hard to think of any place in New Orleans where the dividing line between music creation and music consumption is blurred. Have you been to The Music Box Village? It’s in the Bywater. The Music Box Village is a collection of rustic-looking buildings described as “musical architecture.” When you interact with the buildings – either by walking through them, pulling levers, or taking some other action – the buildings make musical sounds. So, a bunch of people strolling through the village create music. The Music Box Village is also a music venue where artists perform. Many of them incorporate the musical buildings into their live performance, reinventing songs in ways that are unique and can be magical and transporting. The Music Box Village is the creation of an organization called New Orleans Airlift, whose wider mission is to promote music collaboration between local New Orleans’ musicians and other musicians worldwide. The Co-Founder and Creative Director of New Orleans Airlift, and Music Box Village, is Delaney Martin. Recent research has demonstrated that birds, dolphins, whales, and even cicadas aren’t just making sounds to attract mates or warn each other of danger – they also sing collections of notes that can only be described as pieces of music. There’s obviously something primal in our desire to make music. If you’re a dolphin or a cicada, you have your own particular challenges. But you’re free to make music without having to concern yourself with any consideration of copyright, the internet, or online collaboration software. Music-creating and music-appreciating humans have Music Box Village, New Orleans Airlift and DAWn Audio to help both create and appreciate music. Although we're not deputized to speak on behalf of all music-creating-and-appreciating humans, all of us locally wish these companies every success in the future. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29 minutes | Sep 27, 2022
Getting Ahead With Hair
There are a few famous families in New Orleans. The Nevilles. The Mannings. The Marsalis family. The Batistes. The Brennans. I could name more, and you can probably think of others too. Like mine, your list of names is likely going to be families of sports figures, musicians or restaurateurs. There are also families of business people here in New Orleans. Families that are every bit as dynastic as these other names. Like, for example, the Neill family. Hair In 1946, Harriet and Abner Neill started up the Magnolia Beauty Supply company. They manufactured and sold hair care products to hundreds of salons. They stayed in business for a couple of generations, over the years becoming bigger and more successful. Then, in 1991 they expanded into retail, and opened their first hair salon, in Hammond. That one salon, which they called Paris Parker, is now 8 salons that are called Paris Parker Salon & Spa. Employing over 200 people, they’re a division of the Neill Corporation and are co—owned by Executive Director, Garrison Neill. Getting Ahead Growing up in a family where people are talking about business around the dinner table can be a distinct advantage for anyone going into business. But you can only absorb so much over a meal. And even if you go to business school, when it comes to actually running a business and making decisions that affect hundreds or thousands of other people, that’s a whole other set of skills. Those skills – including communication, management, and leadership – are an absolute must to master. And what’s interesting about them is, you can’t learn them once and know everything. As times change, so do the ways you run a company. Michelle Johnston keeps corporate executives abreast of those changes. Michelle is an executive coach for the leaders of companies as diverse as Ochsner, Pfizer, The City of New Orleans, JP Morgan Chase, and many more. She’s also a professor of business at Loyola University in New Orleans, and the author of a book about keeping current in business, called “The Seismic Shift In Leadership: how to thrive in a new era of connection.” There’s no doubt that age makes you wiser. As time passes, you learn from your mistakes. If you’re really wise, you reach the conclusion that you’ll never stop learning. But what comes along with that wisdom is the corresponding realization that you’ll also never stop making mistakes. The best you can do is to minimize your inevitable errors of judgement. And one of the ways you can do that in business - the same as in the rest of your life – is by learning to listen. Michelle's impressive list of clients, students, and readers of her writing are all smart enough to listen to her. And Garrison has learned from the generations of family members ahead of him and is continuing to shape the family business in response to the changing needs of both clients and employees. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
32 minutes | Sep 21, 2022
There’s a good chance you haven’t won the lottery. But you can probably imagine what you’d feel like if you did, because you’ve experienced a version of that kind of financial good news at some point. Maybe when you’ve gotten a bonus at work. Or when the IRS says you overpaid your taxes and sends you a refund. Everybody likes free money. For the most part, that’s why we invest in the stock market. Of course, the act of investing in the market and making money, is the same act as investing in the market and losing money. The trick is to know which stocks to buy. And when to buy them. Like gamblers at the horse track, investors have all kinds of foolproof strategies. There are studies that claim, if you write a list of company names on a henhouse floor and invest in whichever names a chicken poops on, you’ll come out ahead of most of these strategies. The generally-accepted, best stock-trading strategy of all, is to hire a seasoned, smart, Wall Street investment advisor with a proven track record. But most of us can’t afford that. And that’s why there’s The Motley Fool. The Motley Fool is a financial and investment advice company that democratizes investing in the stock market by making insightful, dependable advice readily available to almost everyone. They have a website, produce podcasts, publish books and newspaper columns, and they have a radio show. New Orleanian John Rotonti is a Senior Analyst and the Head of Investor Training and Development at The Motley Fool. Even the greatest investors go through tough times. On the days you look at your portfolio and it’s not doing as well as you’d like, you can still capture that dopamine-high feeling you get on a good day, by stepping through the door of a business in the Lower Garden District, on Magazine Street. The business is Piety and Desire Chocolate. The public-facing part of it is called Café au Chocolat, and the aroma alone in this place will transport you to a place many emotional miles away from financial stress. Piety and Desire is a New Orleans bean-to-bar chocolate maker, which means they make their own chocolate from scratch, from cacao beans they get directly from growers, mostly in South and Central America. The founder and chocolatier at Piety and Desire Chocolate is Christopher Nobles. Christopher started the company in 2016. Today he works with a team of employees and they turn out around 2,000 handmade chocolate bonbons a week. It’s a pretty normal part of human nature to think that everybody else has a better job than you. But then, you rationalize it. You tell yourself, “Sure, so-and-so’s job might look better than mine, but I’m sure she has her own problems.” Well, when you’re through rationalizing yourself into feeling fine about your own life, you’re in a secure-enough place to admit - there are actually people who have pretty awesome jobs. For example, being able to live in New Orleans and work for a major company with national reach, and spend your day picking stocks, like John Rotonti. And then you look across the table at Christopher Nobles. Not only does Christopher get to create works of art for a living, but they’re made of delicious chocolate. Both these guys work hard, and they have to deal with stress of performing at a consistently high level and delivering every day, but what they’re each doing is exactly what they want to be doing, and it’s hard to beat that. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
28 minutes | Aug 24, 2022
Most of us measure our health inversely - by how infrequently we have to see a doctor. If we never have to go to the doctor, we must be super-healthy. But, if our only contact with the healthcare system is when something is wrong with us, can we really call that healthcare? Isn’t it really ill-health care? That’s the perspective that has led a recent generation of practitioners in the healthcare industry to focus on what they call “wellness.” At its most basic, wellness is an awareness of the power of prevention. It’s an attempt to shift healthcare from doctor-and-drug-driven repair, to self-motivated care. “Self-motivated” doesn’t mean going it alone. It means seeking out care from professionals who are not necessarily MD’s but who provide you with methods and techniques to stay healthy. That might include Yoga, meditation, massage, nutrition advice, mental health therapy, and what’s called Integrative Medicine, which incorporates both Western and Eastern medical philosophies. If you were going to seek out these professionals yourself, first you’d have to know a lot about wellness to even know who you’re looking for. Then you’d have to drive all over town, or possibly all over the state, or even the country, to find skilled people working in these fields. Which is why a local wellness center has brought these practitioners together and put them in offices under one roof, on Prytania Street in the Lower Garden District - in the space that used to be the Norwegian Seamen’s Church. This integrative medicine clinic is called Spyre and its co-founder is Diana Fisher. Even if you take amazingly great care of yourself, you’re not going to be able to prevent yourself from ever getting sick. Unfortunately, even people in the greatest physical and mental shape can find themselves with a cancer diagnosis. But if that happens, you don’t have to rely solely on drug-driven medicine to cope with, and help cure yourself, of cancer. In the Ochsner Health System there’s a specialist cancer division situated in a building on Jefferson Highway, called The Gayle & Tom Benson Cancer Center. Within that specialized cancer center patients have an opportunity to complement their traditional healthcare with Therapeutic Yoga and Meditation. Therapeutic Yoga is not the same as the yoga you do to stay in shape. And in this case, meditation is focused on training yourself to concentrate your mental strength to help cancer cure and recovery. The founder and Coordinator of Therapeutic Yoga and Meditation at the Gayle & Tom Benson Cancer Center is Tamarin Hennebury. Despite our best intentions - like new years resolutions to go to the gym, convincing ourselves that buying new running shoes will make us start running, or swearing we’re going to cut out carbs - it’s hard to make and maintain big lifestyle changes. What would be more effective is implementing smaller, simpler changes. So that, instead of thinking of efforts to stay healthy as bursts of unpleasant hardship shoe-horned into a foundationally unhealthy lifestyle, wellness becomes a series of commonplace pleasures that integrate into our everyday lives. You might think that’s easier said than done, but now that we have an integrative health facility like Spyre, it’s easier to actually achieve than it ever has been in New Orleans. And although there’s very little more daunting in the world than getting a cancer diagnosis, having access to therapeutic yoga and meditation within the course of Western medicine makes the treatment more bearable and ultimately the cure more possible. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can see photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
29 minutes | Aug 20, 2022
The North Shore
If you live in New Orleans you can go for weeks, months, even years, without having any connection to what goes on across the causeway, on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Mandeville, Covington, Madisonville, Hammond – they’re just names of places that get hammered when the weather forecast gets it wrong and storms go north of New Orleans. Ponchatoula sounds interesting. You’ve thought about checking out the strawberry festival. But when it comes right down to it, why not just get a strawberry daiquiri at the drive-thru and go to one of the many festivals on this side of the lake? That’s a pretty prevalent view from the south shore. When you live on the north shore, the perspective is, understandably, different. Without generalizing any more than I have been already, the North Shore sees itself as a superior part of New Orleans that’s a mere 40-minute drive away from downtown. The towns on the north shore, they say, have all the benefits of New Orleans, without crime, potholes, poor education, exorbitant rents and inflated real estate prices. Even die-hard New Orleanians have to agree that those downsides are real. But they might be skeptical of the North Shore’s claims to share the attributes New Orleans is best known for. South Shore skeptics, this show’s for you. We haven’t got time to go into every facet of North Shore/South Shore comparisons, so we’re just going to look at one: hospitality. If you live on the south shore, you’re familiar with celebrity chefs and restaurateurs like Alon Shaya, Donald Link, and Emeril Lagasse. If you live on the north shore you’re also familiar with Pat Gallagher. Pat is the founder and lynchpin of The Gallagher Restaurant Group, a collection of four restaurants in Covington, Mandeville and Slidell. Pat’s restaurants employ over 200 people, from the classic upscale Gallagher’s Grill in Covington to the casual seafood restaurant, Pat’s Rest Awhile, on the lakefront in Mandeville If you live on the south shore, you’re familiar with elegant, traditional hotels like the Monteleone, the Roosevelt, and Le Pavilion. If you live on the North Shore, you’re also familiar with the Southern Hotel, in Covington. The Southern Hotel existed from 1907 till 1960. After the hotel closed in 1960, the building suffered all kinds of indignities, including a stint as a drugstore, and a City of Covington government building. From 1983 on, it was totally abandoned. It wasn’t till 2011 that lawyer and preservationist, Lisa Condrey Ward came along and convinced her husband, her brother, and her sister-in-law to go into business with her and buy the building. Some three years, and $8m in renovations later, the Southern Hotel re-opened in 2014. Today the hotel has 40 guest rooms, event spaces, a set of private guest suites in the garden, and a restaurant. North vs SouthIt’s human nature to compare yourself to others. It might not be conducive to good mental health, but we can’t help judging ourselves. Apparently, as humans, we like to know where we stand on various axes - like rich/poor, young/old, and smart/stupid. If we really were smart, we wouldn’t do this at all. Because it’s pointless. Knowing that you’re richer, older, or taller than someone else doesn’t make you a better person. Similarly, believing that the city you live in is better than the city someone else lives in doesn’t actually make your city better. New Orleanians on the South Shore prefer living here for their own reasons. And the exact same logic applies to folks on the North Shore. For diehard South Shore loyalists, maybe today’s glimpse into Pat Gallagher's restaurants and Lisa's hotel will open some minds to the merits of the North Shore. And to our friends on the North Shore, Pat and Lisa drove all the way to the Irish Channel without getting carjacked or shaken down by someone claiming to know where they got their shoes. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
34 minutes | Aug 3, 2022
The Forge In The Metaverse
Throughout history there are commonly periods of societal narcissism, in which we believe our own era is the most extreme example of whatever condition we’re considering. For example, in the 1950’s, Americans regarded the automobile as the absolute apex of human engineering, even though some thousands of years before, humans had managed to build the pyramids. Since the invention of fiction, we’ve credited contemporary creators with devising the most fantastical worlds ever imagined - from Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem Kubla Khan, to Walt Disney’s Disneyland. But it’s hard to imagine an era more extreme than the one we’re living in today. Even with the caveat of misplaced narcissism, there has never been a greater disparity between the real world and the non-real world. Between, say, the world of manufacturing, and the promised land of the metaverse. The metaverse is a more-or-less parallel rendering of the real world, in a 3D digital dimension. Although we’ve been promised versions of this vision for years - with names like “holograms” and “VR” - the latest portal into this alternative universe is called “Web3.” Web3 is built on the blockchain, which is, at its heart, a metaverse where we can relate to each without going through a middle-man. In other words, in this utopian digital future we won’t need Facebook, Netflix, or anybody who builds an online platform for us, because, somehow, we’re all going to be able to build these bridges between ourselves. So, the question is - is Web3 another empty promise about mass market adoption of life-changing Virtual Reality - which is always just about to happen but never seems to - or, is a blockchain, crypto-currency, free-to-be, Web3 world really here? Arguably New Orleans most successful entrepreneur ever is betting on option number 2. In 2010, Patrick Comer created a real-world company called Lucid (now Cint), which dealt in collecting data. In 2021 Patrick sold Lucid for $1.1 billion. Patrick’s latest venture is called Gripnr. Gripnr couldn’t be more untethered to the real world if it was an acid trip. Gripnr is a Web3, blockchain-based platform that allows online game players to play a game like Dunegeons and Dragons and incorporate crypto-currency and NFTs into their online gaming world. Meanwhile, back in the real world, Stephen Bateman has a forge in the back yard of his house in Jefferson Parish. Stephen is the owner and sole employee of his company, Down The River Forge. He spends his days making knives. Stephen started the business in 2020. Today he’s making high-end, hand-crafted hunting knives, kitchen knives, meat cleavers, oyster shuckers, and cane knives, for clients across the country and around the world, as far away as New Zealand, Norway, and the UK. If you want a handmade knife from Down The River Forge, your current wait time is 18-20 weeks. And, thanks to Stephen’s appearances on TV, and the organic success of Down The River Forge’s Instagram account, Stephen’s client list is growing every week. If you’ve ever been in a brainstorming session, you’ve probably heard an encouraging moderator try and elicit input by saying, “There’s no such thing as a bad idea.” On the other hand, anybody who has sat through a pitch session in which entrepreneurs pitch concepts for startup businesses, will tell you there is no shortage of bad ideas. Or so they think. In reality, there are countless stories of very successful businesses whose founders had people tell them, “It’ll never work.” Patrick's startup, Gripnr, is a business that is so cutting-edge it’s almost literally in a world of its own. And who would have known that there is such an enormous demand for custom knives until Stephen had the courage to commit to Down the Rive Forge. Peter has ended quite a few of these Out to Lunch shows over the years by saying “I look forward to following you and keeping up with your continued success,” but doubtful that he's ever meant it more than he does after hearing these two very different entrepreneurial tales. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. And you can check out Patrick's last appearance on Out to Lunch talking about how he sold Lucid. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
30 minutes | Jul 27, 2022
Even before the Covid pandemic transformed office workers into a nation of folks who sit at their dining table 3 days a week in dress shirt and yoga pants, we’ve been taking our laptops to coffee shops and hanging out there for hours, working. Today, the coffee shop is cemented permanently into our mix of alternative office spaces. Wherever you go in the United States, you see a particular breed of coffee-shop-warrior. They have ear buds in so they can’t communicate with anybody. And their gaze is so intently fixed on a screen that they’re barely aware of other humans around them. With this almost-total-isolation, you might wonder why these folks want to be in a place like a coffee shop where there are so many distractions. Well, apparently there’s something about the buzz of coffee shops – and coffee - that is conducive to task completion. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this coffee culture started in Seattle, when Starbucks was founded, in 1971. But it actually started long before that. In the 15th Century. The home of coffee wasn’t a town called Frappuccino, but it was a city called Mocha. Mocha is the name of the port city where coffee was first exported from its home in Yemen. Today, if you want authentic Yemeni coffee, you can find it here in New Orleans, at the Hey Coffee Company on the Lafitte Greenway. Hey Coffee imports and roasts a number of unique small batch coffees. The co-founder of Hey Coffee - and its coffee shop, Hey Café - is Greg Rodrigue. While the coffee shop is an alternative to working at home, other than an endless supply of coffee and pastries it doesn’t have any significant advantage over your kitchen table. Sometimes, whether you’re at home or on the road, you need more than just a flat surface for your laptop. Sometimes you need an office. And, if you’re on the other side of the desk, now that your employees are working out of the office a few days a week, you find yourself with a bunch of office space you’re paying for and not using. A new company called Workaru is solving all of these problems at once. The easiest way to think of Workaru is the Air B’n’B of office space. If you have an office with empty desks, or an empty conference room, you can rent out your office space for a day or two, or an hour or two. And if you need an office space to work in, or a conference room to hold a meeting, you can find that on the Workaru app – either in advance or on the day you need it. The founder of Workaru is Clerc Bertrand. One of the most popular TV shows of the early 2000’s was a comedy called The Office. What made it funny was, a disparate group of people doing boring jobs for a lame company were forced into the same space for hours a day. Today, the concept of being forced into a hell-scape office to work alongside people you don’t want to deal with is seriously dated. For starters, most people aren’t stuck in a job they don’t like. These days if you don’t like your job, you quit and go get another one. Or join the gig economy. And if you do enjoy your job, you’re not forced into an office every day. You can work from home, from a coffee shop Like Hey Café, or you can grab an office when you need it on the Workaru app. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
32 minutes | Jul 19, 2022
“Sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don’t.” If you don’t know, or don’t remember, where that comes from, it was a 1970’s Hershey’s marketing campaign. The concept was to sell two candy bars with one ad. One candy bar was Almond Joy – made with almonds – which you ate when you felt like a nut - and the other was Mounds, which was made with coconut – which you ate when you didn’t. Despite its name, coconut isn’t technically a nut. Nevertheless, people who are allergic to tree nuts - like almonds, cashews, and walnuts - are typically also allergic to coconut. Back in the 1970’s that didn’t bother anybody. The reason you ate one candy bar over another was just a taste preference. Today, things have changed. Now there’s an entire market of products for people who are allergic to nuts, including foods that are staples of the American diet, like peanut butter. For those of you in that category – and those of you looking for healthier snack food - there’s a new nut in town. It’s called Sacha Inchi. Sacha Inchi is a super-seed that is barely known in the US, but in South America it’s known as “The Inca Peanut,” having been cultivated in Peru for centuries. The stateside pioneer of snack foods made from Sancha Inchi is a company called Brass Roots. Brass Roots makes three types of Sacha Inchi nut butters – unsweetened, chocolate, and classic. They make three versions of roasted Sacha Inchi seeds. And three varieties of Sacha Inchi puffs - which are kind of like healthy Cheetos. If you’re familiar with our traditional New Orleans eating habits, here’s a sentence you probably weren’t expecting to hear: Brass Roots is from right here in New Orleans. The founder and self-described Chief Eats Officer at Brass Roots is Aaron Gailmor. When we think about the natural world, we typically think of the outdoors. Although most of us spend the bulk of our lives indoors - either at work or home - we do make an effort to bring the natural world inside. We might have a potted plant in our office - though typically it dies the first time we’re out for a few days. At home, whether or not we can keep indoor plants alive depends entirely on whether there’s one person in a household who has a clue about horticulture. When it comes to the outside of our home or office, we can turn to professional landscapers who choose plants that are right for our specific location, and who come out and maintain them. Now, in New Orleans, we can do the same inside, thanks to an indoor landscaping company called FAIT NOLA. Over the past few years you may have seen the FAIT NOLA truck around town – it looks like a food truck for plants. Now there’s a brick-and-mortar location on Magazine Street. The co-founder and self-described Plantpreneur at FAIT NOLA is Laura Stirling Joffrion. Back in the day, the 70's ad campaign for Almond Joy and Mounds had the same level of success we would describe today as "going viral." In the 1980's there was another memorable ad campaign with an equally tag-line. This one was for a re-tooled American car. The tag line was, “This is not your father’s Oldsmobile.” Unfortunately, it turned out that your father’s Oldsmobile was actually better. And pretty soon Oldsmobile disappeared off the market. But the reason I bring this is up is because the businesses we’re talking about today – pioneering a brand-new healthy snack food and a new way of bringing nature into our indoor lives – are far from the old, stereotypical perceptions of what succeeds in New Orleans. It’s been true for some time that we’re no longer living in your father’s Crescent City, and it says a lot about New Orleans today that we’re not surprised to learn that original and exciting businesses like Brass Roots and FAIT Nola come from here. But we still have small town pride! All of us in the business community and the wider community beyond are happy for the success of these two pioneering businesses and we're looking forward to following their continued success. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizzain the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. And you can check out Aaron Gailmor's earlier pre-Sacha Inchi appearance on Out to Lunch. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
31 minutes | Jun 29, 2022
Everybody likes to make money. The accumulation of wealth is so ingrained into our American way of life that wealth is synonymous with success. And for good reason. In our society, the more money you have the better access you have to pretty much everything – from healthcare to art. For some people, there are pathways to making huge amounts of money. But for most of us, there’s not. For most of us, it doesn’t matter how great we are at our job, there’s a definite ceiling to the amount of money we can ever make. And that’s why, given an opportunity, we’re attracted to the chance of making tons of money. And I use the word “chance” intentionally. Because I’m talking about gambling. In 2018, the Supreme Court decided a case that allowed states to legalize sports betting. In 2020, betting on live sports games was legalized in most Louisiana parishes. In 2021, in-person sports betting was allowed here - meaning you could bet on sports games in a casino. And in 2022, the State allowed mobile sports betting. So, how do we like our sports betting here in Louisiana? Apparently, a lot. According to recent statistics, we’re the 8th biggest sports betters in the nation. And if you rank it on a per capita basis, we’re third biggest. Who’s benefitting from this all this sports betting? Well, you are - if you win. The State is – they’re gaining millions in tax revenue. And the casinos are probably doing okay too. To find out just how well Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans is doing, we can turn to Dan Real. Dan is the Regional President, Southwest, of Caesar's Entertainment, who own Harrah’s New Orleans. Legal real-time betting on the sports industry is fairly recent. But we’ve been placing real-time bets on just about every other industry in the US since 1790. That’s when the Philadelphia Stock Exchange was founded. That was followed two years later, in 1792, by the founding of the New York Stock Exchange. For a very long time, stocks were traded by a select group of Americans who could afford a broker to navigate the complex process of buying and selling on these exchanges. Then, along came the internet. Online trading democratized the investment process. Apps like E*TRADE let anyone with a few discretionary dollars and a cell phone put money in the stock market. Consequently, the current generation of investors is way more representative of the general population. One positive effect of this generational shift has been a move toward what is known as ESG investing. ESG stands for Environmental, Social and Governance. ESG investors invest in companies that are environmentally and socially responsible, and that encourage diversity in their own makeup. Locally, Suzanne Mestayer, Managing Principal at majority-woman-owned Thirty North Investments, is very familiar with ESG investing. She describes it as, “bringing together money and meaning.” From the outside, a lot of things look easy. Until you come to do them yourself. Then, when you actually have to write a resume, ride a surfboard, host a podcast, or any one of a thousand things that look easy, you find there’s more to it than you thought. Investing in the stock market is the opposite. From the outside it looks complex, even inexplicable. But once you become an investor, you realize it’s actually pretty straightforward. Of course, the action of putting money in the market and making a profit, is the same action as putting money in the market and making a loss. Thanks to the demands for transparency that have come with the advent of ESG investing, there are now other forces than a company’s profit and loss statements that move markets. And, although there are various schools of thought on the wisdom of gambling, it’s not a totally dissimilar process to investing. You do as much research as you can, weigh the odds, decide how much you can afford to lose if things go the wrong way, and put your money down. This is a unique conversation about investing and gambling, from two very different perspectives that come together over pizza. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. And you can check out more lunchtime conversation about ESG and how you can get involved in it through being selective about who you buy from online. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
34 minutes | Jun 22, 2022
Whatever you believe is the cause of our changing climate, we seem to be living through an era of historically more storms, and more severe storms. Even if you only moved here recently, most of us in Louisiana have now lived through a major hurricane, or had one narrowly miss us. You’re no doubt all too familiar with the hurricane season ritual ahead of a storm heading in our direction. It starts about 5 Days out, with casually checking the weather forecast, and builds to obsessively watching storm predictions on TV, checking incessantly online, and asking family, friends, and neighbors, “Are you staying or evacuating?” So, here’s a crazy question. What if you didn’t have to do any of that? What if there was a website or an app that you could open, punch in your address, and get an individualized, accurate, wind and flood forecast? Not for the city, but for your own specific street address. If that sounds ridiculous and impossible, well, it’s neither. It’s actually real. It’s a tool that’s at your fingertips right now, called QRisq. It’s the result of years of development by a company headquartered at the Stennis Space Center, called QRisq Analytics. Initially QRisq’s customers have been municipalities but starting with the 2022 hurricane season, Q Risq is available to the general public. Elizabeth Valenti is the Lead Engineer who created, designed and, along with a staff of 7, built this piece of technology. There’s a good side and a bad side to everything. Even high winds. Almost everybody in the energy production business believes that wind power is going to provide a significant amount of our future electricity supply. Here in Louisiana, we don’t exactly have winds whistling across wide open plains. But we do have wind out at sea, in the Gulf. Harnessing that off-shore wind to generate electricity is now a priority, for both our State and Federal governments. As plans progress to build wind farms out in the Gulf, one of the essential items is the giant windmill blades that spin around to produce the energy. Each wind turbine blade is 400 feet long. And made of aerodynamically sculpted steel. Wind turbine blades are reportedly the largest serially produced item manufactured on earth. And the exact spot on the planet that some of the most advanced blades are being designed is at the Avondale Shipyards, just out of New Orleans, by a company called Gulf Wind Technology. Its CEO is James Martin. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.” It’s meant to suggest that even something that is bad for most people has got to be good for somebody. There are very few instances where you can employ that expression literally. So, to that extent we may have made history with this podcast! Elizabeth Valenti's QRisq technology might be the closest we’ve come to getting an advantage over hurricanes, or at least predicting our chances of survival. And increasing our chances of getting an insurance settlement on the other side. And whereas “trying to catch the wind” was once a poetic way of describing a hopeless cause, today, catching the wind is becoming a potentially planet-saving industry. And James Martin's turbine blade technology is at the cutting edge of the revolution. Elizabeth and James are both doing ground-breaking work that would be significant whatever city they were in, anywhere in the world. It’s amazing that they're both here in New Orleans. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. And you can also check out more lunchtime conversation about New Orleans surprising role in advancing wind-power technology See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
35 minutes | Jun 15, 2022
Here’s a stupid question. Is 40% a lot? The answer, of course, is “Yes it is.” For example, if you order a pizza that has 8 slices, and you throw 40% of the pizza in the trash, you’ll only have 4.8 slices to eat. Why would you do that? You wouldn’t throw out 40% of a perfectly good pizza. That you paid for. Right? That would be a ridiculous waste of food and money. Well, believe it or not, you are in effect doing just that. And so is everybody else in the country. According to the FDA, the Food and Drug Administration, between 30 and 40% of the food supply in the US is wasted. This is not some sort of deep-probe Out to Lunch investigative reporting - you can find this information on the FDA’s website. And think about this fact for a moment. In the US, food waste is the single largest item thrown into landfills. Not paper. Not plastic. Food. And just to be clear, by “food waste” we’re not talking about things like potato peelings or compost. We’re talking about discarded food. If there was a way to intercept this food waste, it could be diverted to the 42 million Americans who live in households reported as “food insecure.” That is precisely what an organization called Food Rescue US is trying to do. The New Orleans chapter of Food Rescue is headed up by its Site Director, Kelly Haggerty. When you own a restaurant, food waste is unavoidable. No matter how skilled you are at restaurant administration, it’s very difficult to predict exactly how many people are going to show up on a given day. But, because restaurants run on slim margins, being able to predict food requirements is essential if you’re going to keep the lights on. If, for example, your restaurant is in line with the FDA statistic of wasting 40% of the food you purchase every day, you’ll pretty soon find yourself out of business. New Orleanian Robert LeBlanc has managed to navigate the unpredictability of running restaurants, music clubs, and bars in New Orleans since 2005. Currently the hospitality businesses Robert’s company, LeBlanc + Smith, own and operate, include the restaurant Sylvain in the French Quarter, the bar Barrel Proof in the Lower Garden District, and the Chloe Hotel in Uptown. You can’t live in New Orleans and not have an appreciation of food. It’s not till you leave here and go other places that you realize the high culinary standards we’re surrounded by here. Even tiny poboy and snoball stands deliver tastes you don’t get anywhere else. And it’s not till you leave here and go other places that you realize how New Orleanians have a respect for each other that stands apart from the casual indifference people exhibit toward strangers in other cities. Because of that, New Orleanians will continue to rally around the cause of Kelly's Food Rescue as they become aware of it. And Robert's bars and restaurants are certainly taking their places in the long tradition of exemplary hospitality we’re famous for here in New Orleans. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. And you can also catch up with more lunchtime conversation about New Orleans food, specifically booze and veggies. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
27 minutes | May 25, 2022
Successful Exit Part II
On a recent show, we talked about Successful Exits with the founders of Turbosquid, Levelset, and Lucid. A successful exit is when your business is doing so well that someone buys it off you. In 2021 the founders of Turbosquid, Levelset and Lucid sold their New Orleans companies for $75m, $500m, and $1.1b dollars, respectively. As impressive as that is, it’s not the full story about all the successful exits that are happening in the New Orleans tech sector. On this edition of Out to Lunch we take a look at two other companies who have made successful exits, from the buyer’s side, as well as the seller’s. Let’s kick off by catching up with Darryl Glade. Darryl was on Out to Lunch back in 2019. If you want to check out that conversation, search in your podcast app for Out to Lunch - the episode was called "The Camera Doesn’t Lie." Darryl’s company, IMOTO Photo, specialized in taking photos for real estate listings. The quality of photos in real estate listings can make a huge difference - both in finding the right buyer, and getting the right price for the seller. We're not sure what photos Darryl used to execute his own sale, but in 2021 he sold IMOTO Photo and an allied company, Rocket Photo, for $5m, to a real estate tech company based in Quebec, Canada, called Urban Immersive. Unlike some other exits, Darryl and his whole team have stayed on after the sale. Today, IMOTO Photo is bigger than ever and has added all kinds of tech to the services it provides to home buyers and sellers, including real estate listings in the Metaverse. Since 2015 we’ve been following the fortunes of a local education technology company called Whetstone. Whetstone is a software platform that improves classroom teaching. It streamlines and standardizes teacher observation and instruction. You only have to meet Whetstone CEO Libby Fischer once to know she’s the kind of person who’s going somewhere. And, in fact, today she has gone somewhere - she’s gone on her honeymoon. But before she went there, Libby led Whetstone to a successful exit. In 2021, Whetstone was bought by another Ed-Tech company, based in Lafayette Louisiana, called SchoolMint. Like Darryl’s company, everybody who was at Whetstone has stayed on at SchoolMint. Libby has become SchoolMint’s Chief Operating Officer, and Whetstone’s Director of Operations, Zach Hollwedel, has become SchoolMint’s Vice President of Finance Operations. When we talk about local startups being bought by bigger companies, one of the frequent criticisms is that these sales siphon future earnings away from New Orleans and into the coffers of out-of-town owners. That has not happened with the purchase of either IMOTO Photo or Whetstone. To the contrary, it looks like these successful exits are more success than exit. Everybody is still at both of these companies, and rather than siphoning off anything, these companies are both growing, creating more wealth for New Orleans. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. At itsneworleans.com you can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur. And check out part I of our Successful Exit series with Patrick Comer, Matt Wisdom and Scott Wolfe Jr. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
36 minutes | May 18, 2022
For better or worse, New Orleans economy is dependent on tourism. As we’ve discussed previously on this show, critics say a tourist-dependent economy traps people in low-paid jobs. Tourism boosters say without the revenue generated by tourists we’d all be paying way more in taxes and our cost of living would be through the roof. Whichever of these positions you subscribe to, undeniably the heart of the New Orleans tourist industry - and therefore New Orleans’ vital finance generator - is the French Quarter. The French Market Corporation is all too aware of this tourist-dependence. They’d like the French Quarter to be a place locals visit too. Not just because it is, after all, quintessentially New Orleans, but because for a large chunk of the year the heat keeps tourists away and locals are the Quarter’s only source of revenue. As their name suggests, the French Market Corporation operates the French Market. But their jurisdiction also includes the Pontalba buildings, all of the riverside retail stores, and riverside restaurants, from Cafe duMonde to Gazebo Café. It's a big chunk of real estate and accounts for a significant percentage of French Quarter revenue. The Executive Director of the French Market Corporation is Leslie Alley. There aren’t many places in the French Quarter that tourists and locals go. But there is one place most tourists go, and most locals have been. And that’s Pat O’Brien’s bar. Pat O’Brien’s is the home of the Hurricane. They have fountains of fire in the courtyard. And in their piano lounge they have dueling pianos. Two piano players sit at matching copper-topped grand pianos, playing together or trading off, playing requests, and encouraging audience participation. It’s a singular kind of skill that combines musicianship and live improv entertainment. For 25 years one of these entertaining piano players has been Henrietta Alves. There’s no doubt, New Orleans wouldn’t be the city it is without the French Quarter. And the French Quarter, as attractive as it is architecturally, wouldn’t have the charm, character, and reputation it has without the people who live and work there. Henrietta Alves has contributed to decades of life in the Quarter, as both a resident and a musician. And Leslie Allie's contributions to the French Market, and the properties the French Market Corporation operates, will be felt for decades to come. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. And check out more lunchtime conversation with New Orleans entertainers Andrew Duhon and Henrietta's daughter, Musa. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
34 minutes | May 10, 2022
You Know It
If you want to know the answer to a question, all you have to do is ask Alexa, Siri, or Google. If your question happens to be, “What is the capital of Latvia?” or something else pretty straightforward, Siri, Alexa, or Google will do just fine. But if you’re looking for information that’s more complex, or if you have to be absolutely certain that what you’re finding out is true, there’s another way of conducting research. There’s a vast repository of fact-checked knowledge at your local library. Just how vast that repository actually is, though, depends on where you live. If you live in a big city, you have access to a big library. If you live in a small town or suburb, your library is smaller. But your access to reliable and specialized information doesn’t have to be limited by where you live, thanks to your local librarian. Librarians everywhere receive the same training. As our quest for information changes, librarians’ skills have to change too. And they have to change more quickly now than they did before Siri and Alexa showed up. Since 2018, librarians have been adopting a software-driven training program called Skilltype. Skilltype’s librarian customers are spread across the United States, and around the world, including the UK, Israel, Singapore and Australia. The founder and CEO of Skilltype is Baton Rouge-based New Orleanian, Tony Zanders. If you’re a company or organization, rather than an individual, and you’re looking for information about individuals, you conduct market research. The most common form of market research is finding out what people like, or don’t like, by simply asking them. You’re probably familiar with that phone call. The person on the other end says they’re conducting a survey and asks if you have a few minutes to answer some questions. This person is typically working for a research firm that a company or organization pays to design and administer a survey. The research firm maximizes its profit by completing the greatest number of surveys in the shortest possible time with the least number of employees. Because what they’re doing is specialized -meaning, their client doesn’t understand it – there’s no oversight. And so, the door is open for unscrupulous corner-cutters to use technology like automated phone bots to make it look like a batch of surveys were executed honestly, when in fact they weren’t. If you’re the client, how are you going to know whether the company you’ve hired to conduct your research is giving you reliable data? Or whether they’re defrauding you with bogus information? Well, the way you can tell is to make sure the company you hire to conduct your research is using a piece of software called Research Defender. Research Defender uses A.I. and machine learning to keep up with and defeat the dirty tricks that unscrupulous survey-takers employ. The CEO of Research Defender is Vignesh Krishnan. Living in the Information Age, we’re constantly bombarded with information. Although “Knowledge is power,” there’s a significant difference between knowledge and information. Knowledge is the foundation of our whole lives. Everything we decide, or do, is based on what we know. We regard knowledge as truth. Information, on the other hand… Well, it can be anything from true, to wrong, or even intentionally fraudulent. Tony Zanders and Vignesh Krishnan are in the business of helping individuals, companies, organizations, and institutions find and share knowledge. It’s impressive that the kind of specialized, sophisticated technology they've developed is coming out of Louisiana. Their contributions are helping put Baton Rouge and New Orleans on the worldwide technology map. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in theNOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. And check out what happens when local New Orleans tech companies hit it out of the park See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
33 minutes | Apr 27, 2022
At some point, most of us encounter a life-altering medical condition. Either our own or someone around us. When you come face-to-face with Alzheimer’s, Parkinsons, HIV, cancer, or any of the serious conditions the human body can fall victim to, it’s not uncommon to find yourself asking, “Why haven’t they found a cure for this yet?” And to hope that somebody, somewhere, right now, is working on a cure. The questions you probably don’t think about, are, who exactly are “they” who haven’t found a cure for this. And who exactly is the “somebody somewhere” who is hopefully unravelling the science of disease. Well, two of those people are Peter's guests on this edition of Out to Lunch. Dr. Chenzhong Li is a world-renowned scientist. He’s an inventor of breakthrough medical technology in the fields of Alzheimer’s, cancer, and infectious diseases. Dr. Li is the holder of 18 medical patents, including for the diagnosis and treatment of Alzheimer’s and certain types of cancer. He’s a member of a very prestigious body of medical professionals, the National Academy of Inventors. And Dr Li is a Professor at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Diagnostics at Tulane University. If you’re thinking it’s extraordinary that somebody of Dr Li’s stature is working in a lab in downtown New Orleans, wait till you hear what’s going on in Thibodaux. Thibodaux is home to a company called BioInfo Experts. BioInfo Experts is a tech company that works on a branch of science called pathogen genomics. They sequence the genomes of infectious diseases. Then they use computational analytical tools to improve the identification, tracking, and treatment of infections. It’s part biology, part computational science, and part statistical analysis. The founder and CEO of BioInfo Experts is Susanna Lamers. Susanna started out working in a lab in Florida back in the days of the AIDs epidemic and pioneered the science of collating disease data and turning it into digital tables. She turned those skills into a business and relocated to Thibodaux to run it remotely long before the next major US epidemic was going to turn remote work into a commonplace modus operandi. Anyone who lives in New Orleans can tell you, the city we live in is vastly different from the impression you get of the place from the outside. Sure, local New Orleanians enjoy Mardi Gras and music festivals, and we might even occasionally wander around the French Quarter with a cocktail. But beneath the fun exterior, there’s a city of business, industry, and science that’s equal to just about any place you could name. Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. You can find photos from this show by Jill Lafleur at itsneworleans.com. And check out more lunchtime conversation about breakthrough science from right here in New Orleans. See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.
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