Mt. Juliet Chamber Blogs

Keep up with everything going on at the Mt. Juliet Chamber!

Maybe Christmas, Perhaps, Means a Bit More...

One of my fondest childhood memories of the holiday season was watching Christmas specials on TV with my family. Year after year, we would snuggle into warm pajamas and cuddle up with blankets to watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and A Charlie Brown Christmas, just to name a few. This was a family holiday tradition I later tried to carry on with my own children; however, I guess those shows from the 1960's seemed a bit dated to kids 20+ years later.

Another popular holiday show, which has never been one of my favorites, is the Dr. Seuss cartoon "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." I never really liked that one, although I'm not exactly sure why. But, I recently ran across a slightly weathered copy of the book on the shelves of a discount store and flipping through, fell upon the page that said something like this....

“It came without ribbons, it came without tags! It came without packages, boxes or bags! Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!  Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!" 

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at my house. The tree is decorated, a wreath is hung on the door, presents are beginning to pile up underneath the tree, holiday invitations are arriving in my Inbox on a daily basis, and new recipes for hors d'oeuvres and sweets have been clipped and stored for easy reference. But, for some reason, looking like Christmas doesn't mean it's beginning to feel like Christmas. I've encountered some pretty grouchy, hurried, harried, frazzled shoppers and store clerks in the last week or so and it's made me think that Christmas would be much more meaningful and authentic if we would just slow down long enough to remember the real reason for this season. Can it be that by trying to do too much, too perfectly, we make it almost impossible to actually enjoy what this season truly represents?

I have a choice. I can be a frazzled, frustrated, frantic wreck or I can choose a more fulfilled, peaceful, calm, joyous, and contented attitude. The true gifts of Christmas have nothing to do with standing in line with a cartful of merchandise at a retail store. I know for certain that if I don't have Christmas in my heart, I will never find it under a tree.

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Man, I am Lucky...

This morning I was thinking about Christmas shopping and what I have left to do. Well, the answer to that is nothing! I’m one of the lucky ones that has an amazing wife that loves to shop. Therefore, I put in a very limited amount of effort this time of year when it comes to gift shopping. Since I have failed miserably at trying to pick out gifts for her, she has made it easy on me and sends me a detailed list of things that she wants. And with the wonders of technology, I can typically order those items off the internet without leaving my desk. So, not only do I not have to go out and fight hordes of people searching for just the right gift for all of their family and friends, all of the guess work is taken care of for me as well. 

Man, I am lucky…..but that’s not the point of this story! I know that many of you are still putting the finishing touches on your Christmas shopping. I’d be confident in stating that many of you haven’t even started shopping yet. For you folks, I have some great advice. Please consider spending your Christmas shopping dollars at one of the stores that sees the benefits of being a Member of our Chamber of Commerce. I’ve made it easy for you and have included the link below.

Merry Christmas!  

Membership Directory – Use Drop Down by Category!

#shoplocalmj pics

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Imaginary People

When I was a little girl, I had an imaginary friend. It’s not that I was terribly lonely and had no real friends to play with. But, real play dates weren’t always possible and for eight years (until my sister Erin came along) I lived in a household with four brothers. So, it was nice to have a playmate of my very own who was there anytime I summoned her, someone who didn’t tease and torment me as brothers tend to do, someone who was always willing to play what I wanted to play – things that didn’t include Tonka trucks, GI Joes, or building blocks. My imaginary friend provided a much-needed escape from a household full of boys.

As I got older and had more freedom to roam, my imaginary friend disappeared and was replaced by a group of real friends and a lot of real activities. During my teenage years, I even began to hang out with my brothers and had several friends and activities in common with them.

Now that I’m much older, I sometimes wish I had an imaginary friend again. I think now, she would be more like a guardian angel; someone who is always there when I need her; someone who knows me better than anyone else does; someone with whom I can share my deepest, darkest secrets, wishes and dreams; someone who just knows without me having to say anything at all.

Maybe it’s a crazy idea, but it’s somewhat comforting to think about having a guardian angel to support and protect me throughout my old age. In The Angels Little Instruction Book, author Eileen Elias Freeman said that “Children often have imaginary playmates. I suspect that half of them are really their guardian angels.”

I guess it’s taken me 45 years to remember something I knew as a child. Funny how that works, huh?

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Hashtags, Posts, Tweets, and Timelines...Oh My!


Is it just me or are we becoming a bit overloaded with information and urgent messages at an alarming rate these days? Don’t get me wrong, information is a very real commodity and we would be wise to recognize the value and benefit of such. The problem for me is that I often feel like George Custer must have felt as he was dodging arrows and bullets. There is just so much coming from so many different directions that it is hard to know where to focus our energies. And the speed at which these new technologies or new uses of current technologies are coming at us is something right out of the old Jetson’s cartoon; except maybe that robotic housekeeper, I haven’t yet see that one!


I have to admit, late last year and early this year I just decided to get with the program and figure it out as I went along. Needless to say, that has left a lot to be desired, but at least I am on the field and in the game. Somewhere along the way, I have amassed enough “friends” on Facebook that they number nearly a third of the entire population of my hometown. Back when I was growing up I had only one true “follower” and that was my best friend and precious pet dog Corky. I think he often just followed me because he knew we would probably be stopping by the donut shop along my paper route. Like me, he too loved donuts!


Since that time I would imagine that most of those who have taken a chance and followed me, have likely done so mostly out of curiosity. And as for those crazy “hashtags”, we were using those years ago for our high-tech games of Tic-Tac-Toe. Now of course it’s hashtag this or hashtag that on Twitter; it’s like a foreign language to those who are on the tech-sidelines. I even have a friend who has the nickname “hashtag” for goodness sakes. And this whole deal with being Linked-In can also be a bit overwhelming. I’m not sure that everyone in my digital rolodex is taking full advantage of these social media platforms, but it sure seems as though more and more are getting engaged like it or not.


Some of my “connections” have asked me how in the world I literally have thousands of friends. I try to remind them that in the end, even I know that the number of those who actually attend my funeral will still come down to the weather. For those with whom I am connected, if there is ever anything I can do for you; don’t hesitate to Message, Tweet, Email, or Post me. Maybe sometime we can check out our timelines and get linked up for coffee and even play a game of tic-tac-toe and then tweet about the old times. I will see you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at


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Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance

Wow, is that ever true! We have heard that for so long and often times we have probably even added in some extra “P’s” for good measure too. You have to admit, there is plenty of truth to that statement and all that is left open for discussion is just what “poor” means to each of us. Regarding growth in a community, it’s probably accurate to say that for every person who is excited and anxious for new development, there are at least some folks who are skeptical at best or downright against it at all. You know what; their concerns are theirs and need to be recognized.

Agreeing or disagreeing can come after there is a show of respect for everyone’s right to their opinion. On one end of the spectrum are those who would take any type of project and try to shove it down an unsuspecting community’s throat and God forbid there are communities out there who need growth so bad they are willing to take it and deal with the consequences later. Thank goodness we are blessed to have people, councils, commissions, boards, and local volunteers who are dedicated and work very hard to insure we do not end up like that. On the other end of the spectrum are those who would have a community “build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything” (BANANA). I’d suggest that neither of these is a desirable option. Somewhere in the middle is where we need to be and you too need to be a part of the discussion.

At this very moment, the city is in the middle of reviewing out Land Use Plan (LUP) and this is the perfect time to let those in the decision making position know how you feel. I’d invite you to take an online survey to make sure your voice is heard. For more information regarding the LUP Review and to take the survey, visit As citizens of Mt Juliet, we are lucky to have a very dedicated group of professionals and volunteer community servants working hard on our behalf to provide for the type of growth we can all be proud of. Granted, not everyone agrees on everything and there are some pretty strict rules to follow if you plan to build or develop anything in Mt Juliet. That’s not a bad thing, by the way. Those who would like to develop or expand new growth need to know what the rules are ahead of time and to plan accordingly. While the LUP is not a zoning plan, the two do work very closely in charting our course for the future. All of these plans are readily available and easy to access. I’d encourage everyone to “suit up”, get in the game and be a part of process.


I will see you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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The Spirit of Hospitality


Even though I was raised in family with seven children, there always seemed to be room for one more around the dinner table. My dad taught at a local fine arts college and often brought students home for dinner, gave them a place to stay for a night when they were down on their luck, or even offered them a room during the holidays when they weren’t able to make a trip back home. Even though he had a large family of his own to care for on a teacher’s salary, my dad was always willing to help someone in need. I’ve heard that hospitality begins at home and that those of modest means are often the most willing to share what they have. My dad had the biggest spirit of hospitality I’ve ever seen.


If we take a look around, are there people in need that we are failing to notice? Even though most of us prefer the safety of our comfort zones, true hospitality often compels us to step outside our boundaries and reach out to those who are unlike us. It’s easy to get so caught up in our differences that we fail to recognize that the tattooed, pierced store clerk, and the homeless man selling newspapers on the corner, and the pregnant teenager sitting next to us on the subway are all our brothers and sisters. Serving others and loving others is the heart of a hospitable spirit and includes sharing who we are as well as what we have. Our love for one another is a direct expression of our love for ourselves, and it’s important to think about how we might help all our brothers and sisters in need, no matter how diverse we are.


My dad practiced hospitality by offering his students a hot meal or a warm bed as often as needed. Even though he passed away in 1978, he is still fondly remembered in part because of this simple practice. One of his former college students told me just a couple of months ago via Facebook that my dad was the kindest, most generous man he had ever known. That’s pretty high praise coming from someone 35 years later. Here’s to you, John Spicer…






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New Friends & Neighbors Coming Soon!

I suppose it’s just a bit too early to start baking a casserole or brewing the sweet tea, but hopefully it won’t be long now. Last week at the MJ Regional Planning Commission a couple of very significant approvals were given for those wanting to develop residential home projects. Those businesses and residents on the north end of our community will see hopefully see the development of the previously started MJ Commons. This development is being designed to provide a variety of options and home sizes. What was approved is only a concept and there will likely be many changes here and there before final approval is granted, but at least the needle is moving in the right direction. A key component of this project is the new stop light installation being planned on Lebanon Road in front of this project. Along with the re-alignment of N Greenhill Road this will provide for a much safer intersection and will undoubtedly spur some very welcome retail projects to better serve those who live in the northern area of our community. More details on this project will be available in the coming months.

As for the new “Lifestyles” Community proposed for the Providence area, it appears that it will become a reality very soon. This project is hard to imagine since there is really nothing else like it in the area. They have a very specific demographic target which is going to bring even more positive attention to our community. This project is being designed specifically for young professionals and is going to be unlike anything we have ever seen. It is a common question around here from large businesses considering a possible move to MJ; “where will my employees live if we move our corporate offices here”? Lifestyles will be huge draw to these types of employers and employees. For those of us with children who will be finishing college and are used to living in a social environment, moving to a traditional apartment or townhome development is not very desirable. Lifestyles will provide for a highly social environment, neighbors who are of about the same age, and with amenities many of us could only dream of when we were that age. Just imagine, one of these days our sleepy little Mt Juliet might just be the new “it” place for our kids who otherwise might have had to move to points yonder. Even more customers for our businesses too!

There are many other projects in the pipeline which is very exciting. Just think, if we are lucky one of these days there will be families that only need to travel from one end of town to the other over the Thanksgiving Holiday instead of hitting the road for long and tiring road trips. Don’t start the oven up just yet, but you may want to dust off your casserole cookbook pretty soon. I hope you have a safe and Blessed Thanksgiving. For all you do to make our community so special, I’m thankful to you. I will see you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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The Worst Kept Secret

This really isn’t a secret, it’s just something that most people just don’t know about!

Our Chamber of Commerce stands strongest as an advocate for the business community.  That message gets lost somewhere and it’s one that I try to deliver on a consistent basis.  When I am talking to a potential Chamber Investor, I always bring up the fact that they are already benefitting from what the Chamber does, so why not help support those activities?

Here are some of the things that you might not know:

The Board of Directors has a quarterly meeting with the city leaders. I’ve been fortunate to attend quite a few of these meetings along with the Mayor, Chief of Police, City Commissioners, City Manager, and other city employees. The purpose of these meetings is to keep an open line of communication between city leaders and the leaders in the business community.  If you ever have an issue with your business (such as navigating the sign ordinance) and need a little bit of help, the Chamber usually knows exactly who to call to help you resolve those issues. 

The Chamber also has a presence at most open City Commission meetings, whether that presence is to provide support or give an opinion on a current issue that is affecting the community or simply to have an understanding of things to come and how those things impact the business community.

We also hold monthly Economic and Community Development meetings. In attendance at these meetings are a lot of the same folks that attend the City Leaders meetings, as well as others such as the County Mayor and members of the Joint Economic & Community Development Board of Wilson County.

I hope I’ve helped you understand some of the things that the Chamber does to help you grow your business, besides providing you with excellent networking opportunities of course!

Sean White, 2013 Board Chair

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86,400 Seconds

Have you ever had a crazy stressful day when nothing seems to go right? You wake up 10 minutes late, it’s pouring down rain, you spill coffee on your favorite shirt, your gas tank is empty, and you can’t find your umbrella. It seems as if the more you rush and stress out, the more stuff seems to happen to make you rush and stress out. It’s a vicious cycle. Nothing is good; nothing is right; and nothing is going to be good or right for the entire day.

While grumbling to a friend on a day like this, she said “God gave you 86,400 seconds in a day. Are you going to spend every second being stressed? Have you used even one second today to say thank you?” This statement stopped me in my tracks and reminded me that I really do have plenty to be grateful for! Every breath I take, each new day, my warm bed, nice clothes, a job I love, and food on the table are all gifts. Not everyone is able to enjoy these things. And it truly only takes one second to say “Thank you.”

When we are grateful for little things, our attitude improves and we create a cycle of abundance. When things are not going our way, we can grumble and complain or we can take a deep breath, feel grateful, and give thanks. Saying thank you is not just good manners, it’s good for our souls.

In Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne wrote “Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.” What better time than during the busy holiday season to try a gratitude experiment and make a list every day which focuses on the pluses in our lives instead of the minuses? We might just notice an inner shift and be surprised at how content and hopeful we suddenly feel when we take just one second to quietly pause and say “Thank you.”  

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Taxpayer Advocacy Panel - An NFL Athlete Gets Help

One area where TAP gets involved is where there are problems with reporting income and expenses correctly. This example is an NFL player who also played in Canada.

Taxpayer is a professional athlete who is under contract to a team in the NFL. He did not play for the team during the 2012 tax year. Under terms of his contract, he was not permitted to play for another NFL team but he was allowed to play for a team outside the NFL. He chose to play for a team in the Canadian Football League.

In playing for the CFL, he was not operating as an employee of the NFL team (like say an accountant would who is sent by his or her employer to work at a company overseas). He was an employee of the Canadian team and received the Canadian equivalent of form W-2. He lived and worked in Canada for 5 ½ months from July – November.

Question: what income does he report and where? What expenses does he report and where? Answer: That’s a very good question.

A reading of publications and forms instructions indicates that if the person had been there all year or had played as a self-employed person, his tax preparer would have had specific instructions. But, that was not the case. Clearly, the income has to go somewhere. But where? And are there any deductions? What about travel, room and board while living there?

The tax preparer contacted the IRS for instructions. (TAP does not get involved in whether income should be taxed or expenses deducted – only whether or not taxpayers and their advisors can easily understand what to do and how to do it.) The professional preparer then contacted TAP so that this might be avoided in the future.

Going forward, though, shouldn’t there be information in the publications and/or forms instructions that cover this situation? There is ample content that deals with full-year employment and self-employed persons. It would seem – at least to the man’s tax preparer - that a note should be placed there to cover this contingency. Besides, in today’s global economy, you don’t have to be a professional athlete to have overseas income.

David Hayes, CFP

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We Are VERY Lucky…

Like many of you, I had the opportunity to pay my respects to some true American Heroes over the Veteran’s Day Holiday and other community appreciation events these past few days. I too found it a great time to reflect on just how lucky we are to enjoy the freedoms afforded us by those who have gone before us and the sacrifices they made. Of course there are many, many shining examples of how blessed we are as a community, state, and nation.

I’ve noticed a couple of things in the last few days that have really helped to drive that point home. One of those “things” was something I witnessed first-hand last week while attending the Governor’s Press Conference at West Wilson Middle School. (I could go on and on about that event and the significance of the reason for that announcement, but I will save that for another article.) At this event, our current Governor (a Republican) Bill Haslam invited his predecessor, (Democrat) Governor Phil Bredesen to share the stage with him. Governor Haslam gave very worthy praise to Governor Bredesen for all he and his administration had done to lay the groundwork for what has been accomplished in the area of public education in recent years. I wonder if most folks really ever stop and think about just how unusual something like this is in many other countries.

First off, in a lot of other countries, an administration can only take over when they literally kill the current administration. Some outgoing leaders are put in prison (along with their friends and families!) or held in bondage for the rest of their life. Some of the luckier ones are exiled to a foreign country to live out the rest of their life. And here we are inviting them to join us on stage. In the very big picture, that symbol was to me perhaps more significant than the glowing improvements in our educational system. My compliments and sincerest admiration to both of these true gentlemen!

And to provide yet another example of how we often take the most basic of our rights for granted, what about the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation (representing over 152,000 learning institutions in Pakistan) banning the book I am Malala, written by the 16 year old girl who was shot by the Taliban. They were afraid it might portray them in a bad light. Well, hello… no kidding! I doubt anything like that book-banning would be tolerated in the United States. In fact, given what I have seen and heard of during recent music awards shows, she would be an instant Rock Star in this country and would be blowing up iTunes and other downloads.

Granted, those are two very different examples of a ball and chain. And maybe, just maybe it was because I was a bit more aware of my surroundings these past few days than I usually am, but I even noticed football players on TV helping up the guy they had just leveled on the playing field. For these few and all of the countless other things we enjoy, I thank our Vets for making it possible! Call me nuts, but you know what? To me those little things say a whole lot about “us” and just how lucky we are to enjoy the freedoms we sometime take for granted. I will see you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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Hello in There, Hello...

Back in 1971, folk artist John Prine released his first album, which included a song titled "Hello in There." This song speaks about an elderly couple living alone in virtual silence, after their kids have grown up and moved out on their own (one son was killed in the war). It's a sweet, sad, haunting melody that sticks with you long after the song is over. The chorus goes something like this:

"Ya' know that old trees just grow stronger, and old rivers grow wilder every day. Old people just grow lonesome, waiting for someone to say, hello in there, hello."

Every time I hear this song, it makes me feel a little bit melancholy to think there really are elderly people out  there who are alone and feeling lonely. Last week, I had the pleasure of hearing John Prine perform this song live, all by himself, on stage at the Ryman Auditorium and I have to tell you, it brought tears to my eyes. For most of us, it's hard to imagine living a life totally alone where you have nothing to say, no one to see, and where each new day is pretty much the same as the one before. When you work full time and/or still have kids at home to raise, our days are bustling to the brim...filled with noise, clutter, schedules, activities, meetings, phone calls, chores, to-do-lists, and people.

Maybe I’m getting a little bit more nostalgic around the holiday season as I get older. But it’s sad to think that there are senior citizens in our own community who might be sitting alone all day, every day…all but forgotten.

We’re lucky to live in an area full of great community outreach programs which benefit senior citizens, especially during the holidays. Home Instead Senior Care hosts their annual “Be Santa to a Senior” program where you choose an ornament with a senior’s name on it from their tree, purchase a gift, and return the gift for delivery. Some of these requests are for items as simple as socks and toiletries. Breaks your heart, doesn’t it? Mt. Juliet Health Care has a similar program, and don’t forget that the Senior Center organizes Meals on Wheels year round which delivers meals to seniors who are housebound. I'm sure we can find many more opportunities right here in our back yard if we just let our fingers do some walking.

I just can't say it any better than John Prine, so I'll end with the final verse from “Hello in There” which says something like this…

So if you're walking down the street sometime and spot some hollow ancient eyes, please don't just pass 'em by and stare as if you didn't care, say hello in there, hello."

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Let’s Show Washington…

Every once in a while a unique opportunity presents itself for people of strong character to show their true colors and in doing so enhance the lives of those around them. In many instances, I would imagine that by the time we even recognize it as an opportunity it is already in our rear view mirror. Today we find ourselves looking thru the windshield with a great chance to get it right the first time and without regrets.

What would make it even more remarkable would be if we can find that sweet spot in the middle where everyone comes out a winner and in the process we can set a “mini-example” to those in much, much higher elected authority but who seemingly cannot agree on what day of the week it is, much less being able to solve the complex problems facing us as a nation. Nope, this opportunity is on a much smaller scale and has to do with making sure that if and when the citizens of our community dial 911 that we can be sure a big red truck with a ladder on it will show up. We also hope that there will be adequate personnel who are properly trained and that they have the necessary equipment to make the fire go away with the least amount of damage possible.

Of course this needs to be done in the most cost-effective manner possible in both the short term as well as the long term. At this point, I am not advocating one way or the other because frankly I don’t have enough factual information (I think I just missed the perfect opportunity to use the word “Intel” that they use in the movies all of the time and sounds so much cooler than factual information) to arrive at a justifiable conclusion. I listened intently at last week’s board of commissioners meeting as well-meaning folks expressed their opinions on both sides of the fire tax increase being proposed. Each person is perhaps correct in their opinion because it is theirs and no one can or should try to force a particular point of view upon anyone else.

I believe there are a few things we can do to enhance our chances of finding that sweet spot. What we can do is to share the facts, agree on the opportunities being presented, identify all possible solutions, consider each and every option available, and perhaps most importantly we must respect each other’s perspective. I firmly believe that if we try as hard as we can to find that needle in a haystack known as consensus, we will all be better for the time spent to get it right while the opportunity is still present.

Rushing this might put a band aid on it and it may even buy us a little bit of time. But, eventually we will be going back to the drawing board and when we do, all the time we will be asking ourselves why we did not take the time in the beginning to do it right the first time. And if what we are seeing in the national news on a daily basis is any indication, let’s take a lesson from them and not be guilty of kicking the can down the road for the next generation to fix. Not that they are watching, but let’s show them how it’s done! I will see you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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IRS Advisory Committees

David W Hayes, EA, CFP®

Volunteer Member

IRS Advisory Committees

Most taxpayers, including many professional advisors, are not aware of how many advisory committees there are which work with the Internal Revenue Service on their behalf. It is easy for an organization as large and as complex as the IRS to loose contact with its client base. We see it in how our suppliers in business and stores where we shop may seem not relate to us. If that happens in commerce, the company may go out of business. When it happens in government, our lives get more complex and our frustration level rises.

The primary contact point for a taxpayer who needs help relating to the IRS in administrative manners is the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel. When taxpayers have problems relating to the correct reporting of data or calculation of tax payable, there are separate avenues where help is available.

Typical situations where TAP can be helpful include requests for information or other correspondence from the IRS are difficult to understand; where tax forms, instructions, and publications are either confusing or incomplete; or where letters and notices sent to taxpayers are confusing. The problem may well be with the IRS, not the taxpayer.

There should be at least one member of TAP for each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Tennessee has two members, myself here in Mount Juliet, and another in East Tennessee. We are not restricted by geography and can assist anyone with any issue. If you ever need help, I hope you will let me help you.

In addition to TAP, there are six additional groups including those which deal with issues involving electronic reporting, reporting for tax exempt and government entities, and art appraisals.

Come by the Chamber office this Friday, November 8, and pay me a visit – or contact me anytime.

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Eighty Percent Chance of Sun…

Is it just me or do you also feel at times as though some people just insist on pointing out the negative side of things when it would be just as easy to highlight the positive? I’ll give you one of the best examples of what I am talking about. Doesn’t it seem as though most of the time the time we hear the weather forecasters spend more time on the bad weather instead of the good? What if we started a movement to change the focus? When was the last time that you heard someone on the news give a weather forecast by starting out letting us know that there is an eighty percent chance of sun? Try walking into the office and letting those around the water cooler know that there is an eighty percent chance of sun today and then watch the look on their faces.

We can do this in other conversations as well. Right here in our own community we have nearly ninety-five percent of our friends and neighbors who are gainfully employed. And guess what I found after a few minutes of digging around online? According to Wikipedia there are 3,144 “counties” in the United States. Guess where Wilson County ranks in terms of growth since 2010? Hint…we made the top 100. Wilson County comes in at number 96! That means that we are ahead of 3,048 (or almost 97%) other counties. Just think, we can call ourselves “3-percenters”.

Sure, there will be some gloomy days ahead. Even five percent of our friends and neighbors out of work is too high if you ask them. And there are still 95 counties growing faster than we are; five of them are in Tennessee so needless to say Tennessee is very well represented and doing far better than most! I am pretty sure you get a sense of what I am getting at. Sometimes it really is just a matter of perspective. Luckily for me, I get to spend most of my time surrounded by people who truly see the glass as nearly full. That makes it a lot easier to keep things in proper perspective and to share a positive outlook on things around us.

Sometimes just for the fun of it when someone asks me how I am doing, I will tell them “I plan on living forever; so far so good” just to see the look on their face. In the end we are all really on a day-to-day basis and every day is truly a gift. However long it turns out to be I hope I don’t lose perspective, even though there’s about a 100% chance it won’t be forever. I will see you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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So, What's in a Name?

Last year a young entrepreneur in Nebraska changed his name from Tyler Gold to Tyrannosaurus Rex Gold as a way of creating greater name recognition as he worked toward building his career.

Public figures and organizations spend a lot of time and money building up a name and protecting that name. However, when you're starting from zero, it's hard to build up name recognition. However, I’ve got some easy tips for you in boosting recognition for your business:

Identify your audience

Who are you really trying to reach? A public official is trying to reach a different audience than an actor; a novelist has a completely different audience than a football player scouting for a new contract.

Don't bank on one-shots

Name recognition isn't like winning the lottery. One thing typically doesn’t turn you into a household name. You build up name recognition one brick at a time and that takes a steady, sustained effort.

Spread it out

Remember that today's audience is scattered. If you're not on the radio, you don't exist to a huge chunk of the population. Others only read the newspaper, others rely on TV, and a large segment of the population obtains their news only from the web. You've got to target different sectors of the media.

Shorten a name

There's nothing wrong with shortening or changing an organization's clunky name in order to be simple and direct. For example, Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr. doesn’t roll off the tongue like John Denver does. Michael Philip Jagger doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as Mick Jagger. Other famous people who have changed their names are Stevland Hardaway Morris = Stevie Wonder; Reginald Kenneth Dwight = Elton John; Sherlon Jackson Lee = Spike Lee; William Jonathan Drayton, Jr. = Flavor Flav; Robert Allen Zimmerman = Bob Dylan; Eric Maron Bishop = Jamie Foxx; Cornelius Crane Chase = Chevy Chase; and Barry Alan Pincus = Barry Manilow. You get the idea, right?

Have you been thinking about making a bold move like Tyler Gold did? Is this a good time to add a new twist to your name, title, or self-image? Do you need to give your business a little bit of punch or variety in order to stand out? You may not have to name yourself after a dinosaur if you follow a few short rules.

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Let’s Call It “Connected” Media Instead…?

Has it ever seemed a bit peculiar to you that sometimes it seems as though this whole “social” media thing can sometimes be just the opposite of what I tend to think of as being “social”? When I was growing up the schools, churches, and other organizations had Ice Cream Socials. Now, those were very social indeed. Lots of folks would attend, games were played by the young at heart, and there were all sorts of other activities. These activities were of course in addition to the ice cream. As you can imagine, at an ice cream social all of the interaction was on a very personal, usually face-to-face basis.

It’s been a really long time ago since I last attended an ice cream social, but as best I can recall no one there was texting anyone else, talking on a cell phone, or even checking their Smartphones. In fact, I am quite sure no one was doing this because it would be another 40 years before cell phones became a mainstream as we know them today. And here we are talking about this thing called social media where we can literally have 3,000 “friends” on Facebook and nobody to go to lunch with. Few if any of the interactions involve anything remotely close to personal or face-to-face and yet we refer to it as the ultimate in “social” media. Someone could probably be considered a social media expert without ever even meeting anyone in person. To me that seems to be just the opposite of “social” media.

Don’t get me wrong, there are tons of very beneficial reasons and applications for those wanting to be “connected” to about a gazillion other people. Heck, we use social media at the Chamber many times each day. We don’t really think of it as anything social; what we do know is that it is an awesome tool for keeping folks “connected”. Now if we could just start the ball rolling to change the name of this phenomenon from social Media to Connected Media, think how much better that would be...ha! I’ve often heard of something like this as perhaps “ringing the bell”. Once it’s rung, you simply cannot un-ring it. I don’t really have any false illusions that it will ever happen; but it does make me wonder how the word social was so quickly and universally accepted as the term to best fit our newest way of staying connected. But then again, I often wonder why they call them “apart”ments in the first place when they are clearly all stuck together.

If you would like to stay connected to the MJ Chamber, it’s easier than you think these days. Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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We Need More Pie Please

In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to have numerous discussions about all of the hustle and bustle in our community. There are lots of building projects currently underway, new businesses opening, and companies such as Gander Mountain working their way thru the planning process in the hopes that they too can open their doors in Mt Juliet one day soon. I’ve also had other folks tell me that the city has no business granting any more residential or multi-family building permits since we already have times of the day when traffic is bad. Someday we may look back at this point in our city’s history as somewhat of a turning point; a reality-check if you may. Together we are going to need to decide what we want to be when we grow up.

For a city that essentially has a property tax rate of zero (since 100% of what is collected is designated only for emergency services) to fund things like parks and recreation, sidewalks, paving, city services, and such, sales tax is king. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that those services will not be any cheaper in the future than they are today. I’m also going to take a wild guess and assume that most folks do not want to pay more in property taxes either.

So the question begs to be answered; how do you raise more sales tax dollars and keep property taxes as low as possible? There may be many more, but two options readily come to mind. Option one would be for those of us who live here already to go out and spend a lot more of our money. Option two is to do what we can to get more people to live here so that they too can contribute to the sales tax base; i.e. grow the tax base. I’d say most are already spending about all they can and unless their income sees a significant increase then I doubt their spending will increase dramatically anytime soon. That means our current pie is pretty well divided up I’d say.

So, that now leaves us with the other option which is making the pie larger. How do we make the pie larger so there is more money spent in our community and thereby allowing us to grow the tax base? We need more “spenders”. We need spenders that are not even here yet to move into our community and to contribute more money to our local economy. These spenders need to represent as broad and diverse of a populous as possible. What are we doing to attract these folks? Where will they live and work? What can we do to help remove the “barriers to entry” into our community? If we don’t do that, then what happens? As for me, I’d rather grow the pie!

I will see you right here next week! Follow Mark on Twitter @MJChamber #mjchamber or Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and visit 24/7 at

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Mobile Website Usage Continues to Grow!

If you are like me, in the last 24 months or so you most likely have started using your mobile phone more and more for browsing the Internet. Larger mobile screens, voice recognition software, and better wi-fi access are just a few of the advances that have made this possible.

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In the 1986 Science Fiction Horror movie The Fly, the main character (played by Jeff Goldblum) was a scientist experimenting with teleporting. During one such experiment, he was unaware that a housefly had slipped into the transmitter pod with him. He emerged from the pod and soon began to exhibit fly-like symptoms as he slowly began the transformation into a common housefly. The makeup artists for this movie won the Academy award for their incredible depiction of the transformation from man to insect. describes synonyms of transformation as renewal and about-face. This same site describes antonyms as stagnation and sameness. When you think about your life, which of these adjectives would you rather describe you?

What better time than now to take a look inside (and around) you and notice areas where change is needed? It’s customary to wait until the New Year to make a resolution; however, if we wait until then, we are stressed physically, emotionally, and financially after the holidays and most resolutions fail for these reasons. Why not make an Autumnal resolution, fresh into this new season?

Most of us will never make a transformation as unbelievable as from a human to a fly, and thank goodness for that! But, there is something all of us can do to become better, stronger, healthier, and smarter, in both our personal and our business lives. Change is happening all around us, from the birds and the bees to the flowers and the trees. If it’s good enough for nature, why can’t it be good enough for us?

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