You can access ChatGPT at chat.openai.com. There is a free version as well as a subscription version. AI or Artificial Intelligence is the science of training computers to mimic the human brain. NLP or Natural Language Processing is where computers can understand and generate human language. LM or Language Model generate probabilities based on a series of words. LLM or Large Language Model is enabled by AI accelerators to process vast amounts of text data mostly taken from the Internet. GPT or Generative Pretrained Transformer is an evolving and sophisticated LLM that uses CHAT, an API, to deliver answers to questions.
You input Prompts into ChatGPT and it gives you a result. The more details in your prompt, the more accurate and useful the reply. You can fine tune your prompt until you get a good reply. This reply has to be further vetted and edited by the user.
Business Applications areas include:
If you are concerned about sources used for a piece, you can ask Chat GPT for the sources used in the output.
The bottom line is this is a tool that can save you time but understand you must review the output and edit it to make it your own.
Thank you to Dana Plazyk of Social Marketing Business Solutions for your excellent presentation (https://www.danaplazyk.com/).
Information in this post came from Dana's presentation and is included in this blog with her permission.
-------- Sandra Waldrop, PhD
LBA would like to thank Councilman Emil Powella and DDA/Planning Commission Chairman Hugh Wilkerson for a very informative presentation about the Lilburn City Government and Boards/Authorities. The items below include information from that presentation as well as the City website.
How is Lilburn’s City Government structured?
Lilburn, like many of the surrounding cities, has a Council/City Manager system of government. There is a Legislative Branch that makes the laws, an executive branch that carries out the laws and a judicial branch that evaluates the laws.
What is the role of the Mayor and Council in relation to the City Council?
The Mayor serves as the head of the Legislative Branch.
The Mayor only votes when there is a tie.
The Mayor and Council create policy and provide direction
Approve the budget
Set the millage rate
Hire the City Manager
What does the City Manager do?
The City Manager is the CEO of the City whose job is to manage all divisions of city government on a day-to-day basis.
Who is elected and who is appointed?
The citizens of Lilburn elect the Mayor and City Council. The Mayor/City Council appoints the City Attorney, the Municipal Judge and the Solicitor as well as members of the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the Planning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals and the Merit Board. The Council also hires the City Manager.
What is the role of the Planning Commission?
The Planning Commission serves in an advisory role. They review development recommendations, zoning requests and City Update plans. They are the first to vet staff analysis for requests. They then recommend to the City Council to approve or deny a development request.
What is the DDA and what is its role?
City governments cannot buy and sell property for development so the concept of the DDA or Downtown Development Authority was created. This is an authority established by state law and enacted by the city council that can buy, sell and develop properties in a defined geography. The members are appointed by the City Council. This entity is useful in assembling parcels of property for larger projects. It is a way to promote the highest and best use of target businesses or developments in a designated area.
What are the benefits to living in the City?
If you check your real estate tax bill from Gwinnett County, you will notice you do not pay the county for police protection. Lilburn has its own police force which is included on your City Tax bill. The Lilburn police response time is as fast as 2 minutes much faster than is possible for the county police. The City police are also responsible for code enforcement.
Our Public Works services include the Chipper service and clearance of roads from storm debris. If a tree is blocking a City road, contact the City anytime for removal.
The city seeks partnership with the business community, the faith community, the Homeowner’s Associations and the residents to evaluate and implement projects.
The City believes citizen engagement is key to long-term success. Opportunities for engagement include:
Boards and Authorities
City Website Informs
Text and E-mail Notifications
Public Input Opportunities
When are the regularly scheduled meetings?
LBA paid a visit to the Parkview 3DE program for our May 16th meeting. 3DE is a high school curriculum developed by Junior Achievement. There are 45 programs nationally. At Parkview, the 3DE program is organized into an Academy in that the students take their core classes with other 3DE students. Although the program is designed as a 4-year program, a student can join the program as a sophomore or junior.
Our meeting began with the presentation that was given to 8th grade parents. We had an opportunity to tell the students about LBA. Since many of us started our businesses after having had other careers, we shared how we had to learn “the business of running a business” in a less formal way. We also let them know the skills they were developing would serve them well in any career they choose.
The program takes a project-based approach to learning. In the 9th/10th grades the focus is case challenges. They work with big name companies like Home Depot and UPS. An example challenge was to find locations for distribution centers in certain regions of the country. In the 11th grade, they focus on Entrepreneurship by starting and running their own business. In the 12th grade, the focus is on consultancy and work-based learning.
The entire program focuses on:
A panel of 7 students plus 1 alumnus were organized into a panel. 3DE Lead Teacher Tyler Hall and the 3DE liaison Johnny Taylor lead the students through a series of questions that provided us information on how the program worked and how the students were developing academically. The students were very engaged and motivated. We had the special “treat” to meet a recent graduate of the program. This student brought delicious and beautiful cupcakes to the meeting. She continued her baking business that she started as a 3DE student. She has also expanded her skills by working in a grocery store bakery.
Our hope is for LBA to find ways to support this program and students.
GCPL Business Resources
The Lilburn head librarian, Melissa Grammont, shared with us an overview of the tremendous resources available at the library that are helpful for business owners. Most of these resources will be located in the Digital Resources section of their website, www.gwinnettpl.org. You will need your library card and pin to access the online items.
The Libby app is the resource for accessing ebooks and audiobooks. Beginning May 1st, Overdrive will be discontinued.
Linkedin Learning offers thousands of video courses taught by industry experts in software, creative, and business skills.
Treehouse is an interactive online learning platform that teaches you how to code, develop websites and apps. There maybe a waitlist to use this application.
Available 24/7, Gale Courses provides more than 360 six-week long, online programs taught by college instructors. New courses begin each month, and lessons are assigned twice a week, enhanced with images, videos, and games to support varied learning styles. Users will enjoy a self-paced learning environment and engagement with fellow students and instructor through weekly discussion boards.
Your library can enrich lives by providing diverse learning opportunities with classes that support:
Business professionals – with communication, entrepreneurship, human resources, management, manufacturing, and marketing offerings
Computer and technology – suiting skill levels from beginner to advanced in software, computer applications, web design, and programming
Parenting, language & arts, hobbies, and more – a wide array of personal enrichment subjects with something for everyone
Health and wellness offerings – certifications in topics from mental health and aging to pain management and nutrition
Reference USA is a premier business and consumer reference and research tool offering instant real-time access to in-depth information on millions of US businesses and more.
The Learning Labs are a great place to enjoy the capabilities of often expensive equipment and software. Here you could, for example, take high quality images for use on a website or produce a video. Equipment varies depending on the branch.
Did you know you can book a Meeting or Study Room? These rooms can be used for business meetings.
Want more ideas? You can always Book a Librarian for detailed information.
What is the Yellow River Water Trail ?
The YRWT is one of 21 certified Water Trails in Georgia. We are a 501c3 organization formed about 7 years ago. Think Riverkeeper, with a larger scope. The YRWT is GA Water Trails Certified by the Georgia River Network, which has 18 more river trails in process for certification.
Wow, I drive over it often, and never gave it a thought.
Exactly, Awareness and Education is one of our core focuses. The Yellow is a clean, beautiful, river suitable for paddling. People can paddle it 53 miles, through 4 Counties, to Lake Jackson. A Water Trail maps and documents the river with GPS coordinates, river mileage, with access points where paddlers can enter and exit the river; along with descriptions of any features and hazards.
So people can paddle it ?
Yes, for most of it’s length it flowing flatwater, shady, peaceful, beautiful. In a couple spots there is some challenging Whitewater, and we become a destination for those adventure paddlers when the water level is up. For the paddler seeking a peaceful, pretty experience, the river moves at a steady jogging speed.
Someone told me the river wasn’t clean ?
Actually, the river is very clean. The YWRT is an Adopt-a-Stream partner and we test monthly at more than half-a-dozen sites in Gwinnett and DeKalb. We test Chemistry (pH, Conductivity, dissolved Oxygen); and for E.coli, our results have come in healthy for the last 7 years that we’ve been testing.
Wow!... So, how is this good for Lilburn ?
Gwinnett is blessed to have 2 recreationally active rivers, the Chattahoochee and the Yellow; most other Georgia Counties wish they had a river that can be paddled. More and more the Yellow will be an outdoor destination, close to Lilburn, Mountain Park, Centerville, and Stone Mountain. And there is a long-range plan for a Greenway along the river, linking river easements, utility easements, County land and parks.
Increasingly the River and the Greenway will be a destination for families, and these people will spend money, and they want to live near quality outdoor recreation venue. Good for business, good for home values.
How can I help ?
The YRWT needs volunteers to help with pushing the vision, water test, help and lead litter cleanups, paddle the river, and make contacts & relationships with the jurisdictions along the river. For example, all the “Improved” river access points are in Newton Co; in Gwinnett, DeKalb & Rockdale, the access points are “Unimproved”, meaning “natural” we enter/exit at the bridges (Five Forks Trickum, Hwy-78), Yellow River Park, etc. The Paddle Maps list all the access points and their conditions.
We need Gwinnett County to help with inexpensive access improvements, such as grading and gravel, and some parking area.
LBA Presentation: https://drive.google.com/file/d/17PBZ9-7XjUQVqTv8QmtDOpmGn7aAa_El/view?usp=share_link
All the river maps: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1H1Ucwx50WgQK-8vn-62ajrT7IautnlB5/view?usp=share_link
Georgia River Network, Water Trails: https://garivers.org/water-trails-and-paddling/
Yellow River Water Trail: https://garivers.org/water-trails-and-paddling/yellow-river-water-trail/
Yellow River Water Trail Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/yellowriverwatertrail/
--Mark Wilson - Chairman of the Yellow River Water Trail
This Monday my day began with a number of LBA members letting me know I had been hacked. They had received a suspicious email from me representing the Lilburn Business Association asking for the purchase of gift cards for a veterans' charity project. After my initial panic, my analytical skills started to kick in as I investigated what was going on.
From the notices, I could tell everyone contacting me were current LBA members. We use one product to manage our membership, events and website and another product to produce and email our newsletters. Neither one of these systems sent out that email. That left me with one conclusion. The scammers harvested the email addresses from the LBA website Directory page. A quick web search confirmed this is a typical practice.
Using this email example, let's review a few simple things to keep in mind regarding email.
Public Email Addresses
As a business owner, we have to have our contact information in the public domain. It is important you use a dedicated business email address. You should keep your personal email address private.
Always look at the email address of the sender. Even though the name on the email looks familiar, the actual email address will look odd. It will be an address that is different from what you associate with the sender. It may even be a nonsensical looking address like “email@example.com”.
The language used in the email may be more formal than expected. The sender is asking for you to do something for them because they are away and can’t perform the task from their location. They ask for gift cards. There is an urgency in the request. The sums can be large $100+. They want you to send them the codes for the gift cards so they can be redeemed with the card not present.
These scammers make some effort to make the emails and requests look real, but there are usually red flags. Additionally, the whole scheme with the gift cards is they are trying to get the cards sent to people that are already being scammed to develop more trust.
Sandra Waldrop, PhD
I don't know many people who can honestly say they enjoy public speaking. However, if you have a business, there will be times you are expected to speak publicly in selling yourself, your products or your services.
In January, Susie Corbett from the Gwinnett-Tucker Toastmasters Club #833 was our featured speaker. Their mission statement is "To provide a mutually supportive and positive learning environment in which every member has the opportunity to develop communication and leadership skills, which in turn foster self-confidence and personal growth".
If you have the sense you are not being effective when speaking publicly, there are ways to improve.
We will be incorporating public speaking exercises into our meeetings this year. So add becoming Public Speaking Fit to your New Year's Resolutions.
Has your company website ever become broken or has stopped working? Have you ever needed a temporary page for your domain to show while your website is being redesigned. Is your business website on hold but you have a domain? Your LBA membership can help you with this problem. Your LBA Directory page can be used as your domain landing page. In addition to information about your business you can even display images on your directory page. Contact Sandra Waldrop for more information.
It was an honor representing the LBA at the Gwinnett Chamber Small Business Awards ceremony today where we were finalists for the category Support System Award. And the winner was .... not us, but congratulations to the Atlanta Chinese Entrepreneurs Club. The event was held at 12Stone in Lawrenceville. Chamber events are always a great opportunity to network and meet with friends made through the business community. There was a "Fireside Chat" with Terri-Nichelle Bradley, Founder & CEO of Brown Toy Box. A truly inspiring story of a single mom in Snellville starting an educational toy company that focuses on bringing children in the black community into STEM. Her company is one of Oprah's Favorite things this year. I was able to speak with the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson of Lilburn. I think we can get her to drop in on one of our breakfast meetings in 2023. I also caught up with Cole Porter of Porter Steel and congratulated him on the final release of the movie, The Ark of Lilburn. Finally a big thank you to Tyeme Woods pictured with me. She is the Senior Membership Development Manager at the Chamber and regularly reaches out to the LBA with events of interest to our organization.
It was around this time last year that I went to my mother and told her I was thinking about opening my own law practice. After almost a decade of practicing law, and always working under others, I was at a point where I became frustrated that I wasn’t able to apply my legal skills to do…more. I wanted to volunteer more, I wanted to help others in more legal arenas, I wanted more from my career. I wanted more of a work-life balance.
I expected more from my mother’s response, as well. All she said, after taking a few beats to sip from her cup of coffee (we’re a family of coffee drinkers), was this: “Megan, I love you and want you to be happy and I think you will do great things if you started your own firm.” There was no dreaded “but” to follow what she said. There was no criticism or disdain. I’ve taken that beautifully compassionate response, and I’m applying that compassion to my own business.
Because here I am, a year later, actualizing the things that were mere ideas twelve months ago. I wanted to open a law firm that could help address the various needs of my community, understanding that legal wellness is a multi-faceted issue that impacts us all in different ways. Addressing legal wellness requires a holistic approach that not all lawyers are able to do, or even want to do. Let’s face it: the law isn’t known as being an especially “touchy feely” field. It provokes feelings of aggression, confrontation, elitism, negativity, and anxiety.
“Holistic” and “client-centered” are buzz words in the legal field right now but aren’t strangers to it. A holistic practice is one that seeks to help the client meet their legal needs by addressing other issues as well that could be exacerbating or contributing to the legal need. A classic example might be the alcoholic who comes to a lawyer for help with a pending D.U.I. The holistic lawyer will not only address the criminal case, but also help connect the client with treatment for their alcohol problem and maybe even assist with connecting that person to other resources in the community if needed. The thought is: if I can help address this person’s issue from not only the legal angle but other angles as well, I can help maximize this person’s overall wellness.
A “client-centered” law practice is one that takes into consideration the entire client experience, from start to finish, using that mindset to enhance that client’s overall journey through the legal process. You develop procedures to make clients feel comfortable with the process, respond to their questions and concerns promptly, use terms and wording that the client understands, and meet the client where they’re at.
A client-centered, holistic law practice is one that puts the client at the center. Really, this is how the relationship should be anyway however there are still many lawyers out there whose own egos are at the forefront of their practice. Their social media or website may be nothing but sharing their own accomplishments, talking about themselves, or expensive headshots from their penthouse office in downtown Atlanta. And that’s completely fine! That’s their style, not mine. But is that the best match for you, when you’re looking for an attorney to help you with a family issue or to handle some simple estate planning?
My goal when opening my law firm was to keep the clients first and make their experience as holistic as possible, being as authentic and true to myself as I could. I knew that for sure. But there was something else I knew for sure as well: I wanted to open my business in Lilburn. Why Lilburn? Is it because the people here are incredibly gracious and kind? Yep. Is it because the businesses here are tight-knit and supportive of one another? Yep. Is it because we have streets lined with big beautiful trees, and green parks packed with kids playing ball? Yep. Is it because the community is diverse and vibrant, with people from all walks of life? Yep. Yes to all the above.
I moved to Lilburn in 2020 just before the pandemic shut us all down for a while. I watched this community come together, support each other, and continue to grow and thrive even when a global pandemic was raging. I saw the fortitude and endurance of this community and grew to not just admire it: I fell in love with it. And when I decided to make the move to open my law firm as a solo practitioner, I knew that this was the place to do it. I knew, and still know, that I have the type of background and experience that would benefit Lilburn and the wonderful people in it (and all around Georgia, too).
But starting a business from scratch in a new community was daunting to me. I have friends and neighbors here, but how would I get from point A to point B? I knew that I would need to make more connections if I truly wanted my business to succeed – I needed some roots. And joining the Lilburn Business Association was the absolute best choice I could have made to start planting, nurturing, and growing those connections into fruition. The breadth of knowledge and experience that this group has afforded me has been invaluable.
Through this group, I’ve gained confidence, made friends, received numerous client referrals, learned about all the ways Lilburn helps and encourages business growth, connected with other business owners, and even received constructive feedback on my marketing materials. I even met the woman who would go on to be my business banker! A focus of the LBA is how to help businesses grow, thrive, and help each other, and I have felt that from the minute I first walked awkwardly into my first LBA meeting.
For some of us, putting ourselves out there isn't easy to do. The LBA has given me the courage to do not only that, but the courage to be myself.
Mailing Address: Lilburn Business Association, P.O. Box 1537, Lilburn, GA 30048