In The News

James Crumlin Named Young Leader of the Year

Bone McAllester Norton congratulates attorney James Crumlin on receiving the Young Leader of the Year Award from the Young Leaders Council.


 This award is given in recognition of the achievements and contributions of an outstanding Alumni of Young Leaders Council.


Congratulations to James on this well-deserved recognition.

Bone McAllester Norton Attorneys, John Branham, Will Cheek & Sharon Jacobs, Named to "Nashville’s 101 Top Lawyers"

Bone McAllester Norton is pleased to announce that three of its attorneys, John Branham, Will Cheek and Sharon Jacobs, were recently selected by their peers and clients for inclusion in the Nashville Post’s "Nashville’s 101 Top Lawyers."


After months of confidentially hearing the frank opinions of local lawyers, judges and businesspeople about members of the local bar, the Nashville Post identified Nashville’s top lawyers. A special effort was made to identify attorneys who are not necessarily very good self-marketers but whom peers hold in high esteem.


Bone McAllester Norton congratulates:


John P. Branham for Litigation
William T. Cheek III for Corporate
Sharon O. Jacobs for Environmental


Will Cheek Protects Gigi’s Cupcakes

The Commercial Appeal, the Memphis Tennessee daily newspaper, featured an article on Will Cheek's efforts to prevent a former Gigi’s Cupcakes employee from stealing protected business plans and opening a cupcake shop, in violation of the employee's noncompete agreement. The former Gigi's employee was in the process of opening a cupcake shop in Memphis, presumably using knowledge she gained as a Gigi’s employee.


As General Counsel for Gigi’s, Will is working to protect Gig's from the unfair use of Gigi's recipes, baking methods and business plan. Cheek said: “We have no problem as long as it’s not a cupcake shop.” Gigi's has a narrowly drafted noncompete that protects it from employees unfairly using protected business plans in a directly competing cupcake business.

ABC Issues First Bar Liquor License

ABC Issues First Bar Liquor License


By William T. Cheek III


September 2, 2010 marked an almost miraculous milestone that slipped by the vast majority of conscious Tennesseans.  The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission issued the first legitimate liquor license to a bar since before prohibition was enacted in 1919.


What about Tootsie’s World Famous Orchid Lounge? Blue Bird Café? Robert’s Western World?  All three illegally operated under restaurant liquor licenses, as did nearly every bar, music venue and watering hole in Tennessee.


Tennessee legalized liquor at restaurants in the 1960s. Before then, drinks were available, but just like corn whiskey from a still, ordering a Jack and Coke was illegal.  In most cities and towns, before liquor by the drink was legalized in the1960s, bars paid off the police or sheriff to sell drinks.  Many of these places also featured small, but equally illegal, casinos.


Legalizing drinks was very controversial in the 1960s.  Church groups teamed with bootleggers, crooked police and politicians, and illegal bar and casino owners to strongly oppose legalizing drinking.  One supporter’s mailbox was famously bombed.  As part of the compromise to legalizing drinking, lawmakers limited drinking to restaurants - excluding bars.


Over the years, bars claimed restaurant status, or presented falsehoods to the ABC, and liquor licenses were issued to hundreds of bars and nightclubs across Tennessee.  Problem was none were legit under the liquor laws.


When the ABC began cracking down harder on bars in 2009, revoking a couple of liquor licenses for 90 days -- the equivalent of the death penalty for most bars -- the legislature responded.  Pundits thought it may never happen, especially in an election year, but it did.  The legislature has created a new liquor license allowing bars to legitimately operate.


Although very controversial and long overdue, the fix was quite simple.  Lower the minimum amount of food an establishment has to sell to levels that are more practical for a bar.  Restaurants have to sell 50% food.  Under the new law, bars have to sell at least 15% food.


Bar owners are lining up statewide for the new bar liquor license. In a sign of the times, it is interesting to note that Tennessee’s first legitimate bar is not a honky tonk or country music hot spot, but rather an upscale gay bar and fashionable restaurant located on Church Street -- Tribe and Suzy Wong’s House of Yum.  The Alcoholic Beverage Group at Bone McAllester Norton helped this long-standing client obtain the first legal bar license in the State of Tennessee issued on September 2, 2010.


Will Cheek leads the Alcoholic Beverage Team  at Bone McAllester Norton, and regularly writes about issues impacting Tennessee restaurants and bars at his blog, Last Call.

"Seven Key Lease Issues"

Benjamin Franklin once said, “[a]n ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” While this phrase is commonly used in the medical field, it also has meaning as it relates to the negotiation of commercial leases.


It is imperative that before a medical provider enters into a lease for medical office space, he or she should review and understand the terms of the lease in order to avoid problems in the future. In the case of lease negotiation, the devil is definitely in the details. This article focuses on seven tips the tenant should consider when negotiating a lease to prevent costly issues from arising. The seven tips are as follows:


1) It is important for the tenant to read the ENTIRE lease. Since it is typical that the landlord, or an attorney hired by landlord, has drafted the lease, the landlord has an advantage as the landlord is familiar with the language used and exactly what that language implies. Thus, in order to level the playing field, it is imperative you read the entire lease – and read it again! Take the time to understand the smallest details and especially, how they relate to you. Ask, “how will this impact me?” Try to walk through a few “what if?” scenarios in order to understand the potential consequences that could be set in motion should some unfavorable clause actually come into play. Pay close attention to the exhibits, particularly the Rules and Regulations. Some of these issues may actually impact you as a tenant, so read the Rules and Regulations as carefully as you do the rest of the lease. Consider hiring an attorney to explain the lease in more details and to assist in tailoring and negotiating the lease to meet the practice's individual needs and objectives.


2) In most form medical office leases, the landlord has the right to reenter the leased premises to inspect it to ensure that the tenant is complying with the lease, to show it to future tenants, and to allow the landlord to make needed repairs to the leased premises. Generally, medical tenants will seek to place limitations on the landlord's reentry rights. Specifically, such access is limited by requesting that the landlord give tenant at least twenty-four hours advance notice before entering the leased premises. In addition, due to the nature of their practice, health care providers may limit the landlord's access to examining rooms and other areas during certain hours of the day. This can be done through designating certain privacy areas on a diagram showing the finished leased premises.


3) If the Tenant is leasing space in a multi-tenant building, particularly if it is a medical office building, it is prudent for the tenant to request that the landlord add an exclusive use provision. An exclusive use provision basically prohibits the landlord from leasing any of the remaining space in the building to any tenant whose intended use would be in direct conflict with your specific medical specialty.


4) A common provision found in most leases is the indemnification provision. This provision provides that the tenant will indemnify the landlord against any claims brought by third parties for personal injury or property damage caused by the tenant or otherwise occurring in the leased premises. It is important that such a provision is qualified by the inclusion of an exception for matters directly caused by the landlord’s negligence or willful misconduct, as it is improper for the landlord to seek indemnification from the tenant for the landlord’s own wrongful acts (or those of the landlord’s employees, agents or contractors). Further, as most indemnification provisions are completely one-sided, it is important to ask for a mutual indemnification as the landlord should have an obligation to indemnify tenant for injuries and damages caused by the negligence or willful misconduct of landlord as it relates to the leased premises.


5) While some medical office leases require the physician simply to pay a monthly rent, in other leases the tenant is obligated to pay additional rent (e.g., the tenant’s share of the operating expenses). Typically, in a multi-tenant building, the landlord “passes through” to its tenants all of landlord’s expenses for operating the entire building. Typical operating expenses include the landlord’s costs of operating, maintaining, repairing, cleaning, painting, and securing the property. As a tenant, you want absolute clarity regarding all monetary obligations. There can be hidden traps for the naïve tenant in this part of the lease. Pay close attention to how your share of the operating expenses will be calculated. For example, if the lease states that your share of operating expenses will be your square footage divided by the total occupied square footage in the building, and you occupy 10% of a building which has 50% of its space filled, then you must reimburse the landlord for 20% of its operating expenses. This outcome can be prevented by insisting that the calculation be based on your portion of the leasable space in the building, whether or not the rest of the building is occupied. Further, you should include in the lease that the tenant has the right to review and audit the landlord's books and records relating to operating expenses and taxes annually to ensure that you are not overcharged.


6) It is important to have the ability to assign and/or sublet the leased premises in the event that the location is not good for business, and the term has not expired. However, it is common to find in the majority of form medical office leases a provision that states that approval for the tenant to sublet space or assign the leased premises is at the sole discretion of the Landlord. This means that the Landlord does not have to articulate any reason whatsoever when withholding consent to any assignment and/or sublet of the leased premises. Thus, it is important to ask that the landlord amend this language to provide that the landlord’s consent to a proposed sublease or assignment will not be unreasonably withheld, delayed or denied. This will prevent the landlord from arbitrarily withholding consent should you ever wish to assign the lease to a credit-worthy, reputable third party.


7) In the event the landlord agrees to a sublease, in order to comply with the safe harbor exceptions to the Anti-Kickback Statute, when you sublease space you must ensure that (i) the sublease is in writing and is signed by both parties, (ii) the sublease describes the specific space being leased, (iii) if the sublease provides access for periodic intervals rather than full time, the intervals are specified in the sublease, (iv) the sublease must be at least for one (1) year, (v) the aggregate rent charged for the term of the sublease is set in advance, consistent with fair market value and does not take into account the volume or value of referrals between the parties of business payable under Medicare or a state healthcare program, and (vi) the aggregate space rented does not exceed that which is reasonably necessary to accomplish the commercially reasonable business purpose of the rental.


When negotiating a lease, it is important to take preventive steps in an effort to avoid issues that may be costly to deal with in the future. You should be able to avoid many lease-related headaches by implementing some of the aforementioned tips along with the help of an experienced commercial real estate attorney.

David Anthony Discusses Changes in Foreclosure Laws

 A 2010 change in foreclosure laws is helping bring some pricing sanity back into the market.


Published May 31, 2011 by J.R. Lind


What’s the market value of something when the market isn’t functioning? If there are no buyers — no matter the price — figuring that value can be as impossible as dividing by zero.


When the housing market was hopping along, there was no shortage of buyers when a bank needed to sale a property at foreclosure and any difference between the sale at public outcry and the outstanding amount of the loan could be sought through the court system. If a home with a $500,000 mortgage sold for $400,000, a bank could easily come for the remaining $100,000.


That worked just fine when there are plenty of buyers. But what if, as has happened during this housing crisis, the buyers disappear and the banks are stuck buying back the foreclosed tracts?


The logical answer is that if there is only one bidder — in this case, the banks themselves — the rational choice would be to bid as low as possible and, again, seek the deficiency in the courts.


"When the economy hit the skids, foreclosure sales for a while were getting prices at 20 percent of the loan value — crazy low — and I don’t think that was a function of the real value being 20 percent. We just stopped having a functioning market," said Bob Mendes, a member at MGLaw. "If you are a bank, you have to make a decision: Would you rather bid in at 20 percent and be able to sue for $400,000 deficiency or bid in at 80 percent and sue for $100,000 deficiency?"


In an effort — spearheaded by a reeling development community — to keep bankers from systemically underbidding, the state legislature last year enacted a change in the foreclosure law that has given legal recourse to the borrower. Under a handful of appellate cases, borrowers already had a right to sue if the market value was too low, but as is often the case from court decisions, there were lots of gray areas.


And while the legislature sought to protect the borrowers through legislation, the law may have actually had the opposite effect, said Bone McAllester Norton attorney David Anthony.


"The clarity of the new statute provides an obstacle for attacks on the foreclosure bid price," he said. "In the past, the standard was unclear. Now, it’s a clear test and easier to overcome… The burden is clearly on the debtor to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the property sold for an amount materially less than the fair market value… That’s not an easy standard to meet."


So in a way, the law managed to both benefit and hinder each side in the creditor/defaulted borrower battle.


"Before the law changed, our advice to lenders was, ‘Start the bidding on the low end of the range of market value,’" Mendes said. "Post the law changing, there’s a little more art, because there’s not as many bidders. But under the statute, if you have successfully predicted something in the range of market, you have defended yourself… If we’ve seen any impact, it’s that banks are back to bidding into a price where the market is."


In a recent sale, Mendes said, the bank put up a property for outcry that held a $2.1 million debt. Eventually, the lender bought back the property at $1.5 million, a hefty tag that still left a $600,000 deficiency for the borrower to overcome. A year ago, Mendes said, the bid could have come in "hundreds of thousands of dollars lower."


Anthony said most bankers already were careful to make fair bids, even in the tough economy, in large part because a too-large deficiency might trigger a bankruptcy for the borrower, in which case they would likely not see the money anyway.


What he sees as the major change is the tightening of the statutory window, the time lenders have to seek those deficiencies, from six years to two.


"Bankers are getting tired of these legal fees, so they’d do these foreclosures … and then sit on them. Some banks would even sell the deficiency on the note," Anthony said. "Now you only have two years to sweat it out. Six years is a long time to kick the tires. I think banks are desensitized to chasing down deficiencies, but now they don’t have forever."


Anthony said he wasn’t sure the law was a "gut reaction" to the rash of foreclosures that beset most parts of the country when the housing bubble burst. That affliction has inspired a slew of proposed changes to Tennessee’s foreclosure procedures, the most widely debated of which has been a plan to no longer require that foreclosure notices be printed in newspapers of record.


SouthComm, the parent company of Post, is one of a number of media companies that have hired lobbyists to oppose the change. But, Mendes said, in a normal market, these things become less of a hot-button issue.


"This statute only matters in a historically ridiculous time. As soon as we get back to a functioning economy, bidders will set the price, but in the absence of bidders, banks are," he said. "It’s just brought everybody back to what the norm has always been: Foreclosures should be priced at market value."


Click here for the entire story in the Nashville Post.

Stephen Zralek talks to WKRN about reclaiming copyrights

WKRN interviews Stephen Zralek about reclaiming copyrights.


Click for the video.

Volunteerism instills passion in daily life

By James A. Crumlin Jr.
The volunteering in America report recently released by the Corporation for National and Community Service, which showed an increase in the number of Nashville volunteers, also reported important data on the volunteer life cycle, defined as the arc of civic involvement that tends to increase as citizens feel a deeper connection to their communities.




As board chairman of the Young Leaders Council, I am particularly intrigued by the research showing that the national volunteer rate tends to increase with age until mid-life. I have seen this trend firsthand in the young professionals establishing themselves in their careers who have expressed a desire to take their volunteerism to the next level by applying to the Young Leaders Council board training program.

Founded in 1985, YLC was developed to address the need to broaden and strengthen Nashville’s volunteer leadership base by training men and women ages 25-40 to effectively serve on the board of directors of nonprofit organizations in Middle Tennessee. To date, more than 1,800 graduates have served on the boards of 150 local nonprofit agencies.

I have found what Laurel Creech, chief service officer for the Mayor’s office and a graduate of YLC Class 38, said to be true: “There is growing national and local interest in weaving service into our daily lives and selecting passions that are important to us that we can dig into and make a difference. With the growing needs of low-capacity nonprofits and the budgetary constraints of local government, the opportunities to engage are vast.”

Since first participating in the program in 2003 as a member of Class 41, I have been inspired to serve on more than 15 boards, including serving as immediate past president of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee and as the current board chair of Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center Inc.

In addition to my involvement in the community, my board training has given me the tools needed to benefit my professional career. I have had the honor of participating in a number of leadership roles within my industry, the most exciting of which was when former Gov. Phil Bredesen appointed me to serve as a commissioner on the Tennessee Civil Service Commission through 2014.

Even in these challenging economic times, corporations realize the value of nonprofit leadership training because young leaders bring back to the workplace those skills they have learned through their volunteer experiences. Serving on the boards of area nonprofits introduces young leaders to a network of valuable contacts, in addition to providing an invaluable service to the community.

Today, more than ever, nonprofits benefit from the skills and passion that young leaders provide. I applaud all volunteers for their giving spirit during times of great need, and especially their continued desire to volunteer after things have improved.

James A. Crumlin Jr. is a member of Bone McAllester Norton PLLC law firm and was named the 2010 Young Leader of the Year by the Young Leaders Council.

Tennessee Human Rights Commission features Stacey Garrett at 2010 Employment Discrimination Law Seminar

As a featured speaker, Stacey Garrett will present at the Tennessee Human Rights Commission’s 2010 Employment Discrimination Law Seminar in Nashville on June 17.

Attorneys Stacey Garrett and James Mackler Participate in Special Olympics Over the Edge Event

Attorneys Stacey Garrett and James Mackler rappelled over the Nashville City Center Building on Friday to raise money for the Special Olympics. They each descended over 400 feet to a crowd of onlookers below.


To learn more about this event, visit the Special Olympics site.

To see pictures of James and Stacey, visit our Facebook page.

Bluegrass Underground: PBS Series Features Concerts Out Of A Cave

Attorney Stephanie Taylor represents Todd Squared Production


By CHRIS TALBOTT, The Associated Press


CUMBERLAND CAVERNS, Tenn. — In decades of ceaseless touring, bluegrass icon Ralph Stanley thought he'd played in every venue imaginable.


Then he got an invite to play a "Bluegrass Underground" show earlier this year.


Read the entire article here.


 

Recent Interview on TV about Recapturing Copyrights


Recently my law partner, Stephanie Taylor, and I were interviewed by Jesse Goldberg, on his show, “Mind Your Own Music Business.”  Following up on an article that I wrote for The Tennessean, we discussed copyright recapture rights. 


This is a very important issue right now for any authors and heirs of original works who transferred rights in their copyrights in the past under the 1976 Copyright Act, which affects works first published on or after January 1, 1978.  Thirty-five years after the initial transfer, a five year window opens up during which the authors/heirs may provide notice of their desire to recapture the copyrights that they previously transferred.  To make it more complicated, authors and heirs must provide notice of their intent to recapture no earlier than ten, and no later than two, years prior to the notice being effective.   Thus, for those authors wishing to recapture copyrights that they transferred in 1978 (for which the five year window opens up in 2013 and runs through 2018), the minimum two-year notice prior to the five year window is right now in 2011. 


We discussed a variety of issues, many of which have not made their way to the courts yet, but surely which will require litigation.  These included whether sound recordings are considered works for hire, and thus not eligible for recapturing; whether session musicians, producers, sound engineers, and others might qualify as authors; and the gap grant problem for those authors who entered into contracts transferring their copyrights pre-1978, but who didn’t create or publish their works until after January 1, 1978.  We also discussed how Nashville courts likely will be called on to decide some of these significant legal issues in the coming years, given Nashville’s importance in the entertainment, publishing, and technology industries. 

As soon as the show airs on TV and is up on the web, I'll update this post and provide links.

BMN Works to Raise Money for American Heart Association

Team Bone McAllester Norton is raising money for the American Heart Association's Annual Heart Walk on Saturday, October 1st. We have _ people participating and have raised $ through numerous fund raisers including a t-shirt drive, chili cook-off and a bouncing ball competition. Yes, bouncing balls.

We Welcome Rick Nickels!

Rick's practice areas include corporate law, employment law, estate planning and probate. He is a member of the Nashville, Tennessee and American Bar Associations and the Middle Tennessee Estate Planning Council.




Rick graduated cum laude from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 1989. Before attending law school, he worked as a trust administrator for a trust company outside of Chicago, Illinois. In 1995 he graduated from Samford University, Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Alabama, where he received academic awards in the areas of Advanced Decedents’ Estates and Trusts and Property II.

Rick grew up in a Chicago suburb where he attended an all boys’ high school run by the Benedictine monks. At Carthage College, Rick played baseball and met his wife, Amy, a Nashville native.

Rick and Amy have three children, Matthew, Molly and Jack. They live near Radnor Lake and are frequent patrons of the “Purple Cow.” Rick has coached youth sports since graduating from college. He is active in church and community organizations, especially those associated with Brentwood Academy and St. Paul Christian Academy, where his children attend school. Rick serves on the Board of Hearing Solutions International, Inc. and West Nashville Sports League (WNSL).

In his free time Rick is a runner and treasures time in his yard with his family and their golden doodles, Libby and Georgia.

September 2011 Newsletter Features New Attorney, Rick Nickels, Over the Edge Event, American Heart Association's Annual Heart Walk, and Warrior Dash

Bone McAllister Norton is excited to welcome Rick Nickels to our team and is equally excited about the firm"s community involvement.  To read the rest of our newsletter, click .

Stephanie Taylor and Rob Pinson speak to International Bluegrass Music Association

Moderator: Richard Tucker


Panelists: R.J. Stillwell, Sound Healthcare; Greg Cahill, Foundation for Bluegrass Music; Stephanie Taylor, Bone McAllester Norton PLLC; Rob Pinson, Bone McAllester Norton PLLC


Even though you may be a young artist or sideman, it’s not too early to think about taking care of yourself when it comes to estate planning, health, accident and life insurance, instrument insurance and retirement. For those of you approaching middle age and beyond, have you given any thought as to who you’d like to be beneficiaries of your lifetime in bluegrass, including how you would like to be remembered in the bluegrass world?  What will be your legacy, your way to keep “the circle unbroken.…”  Join our discussion this afternoon to think carefully about planning your future.




 

Bone McAllester Norton client chalks up a victory against Righthaven

One of Bone McAllester Norton PLLC's clients, represented by attorney Stephen Zralek, was recently discussed in the online news source, Vegas Inc., for his victory over Righthaven in obtaining dismissal over the original complaint.


Righthaven, which has filed over 275 copyright infringement lawsuits, filed an emergency motion for reconsideration, but the court denied it, upholding the court's dismissal of Righthaven's original lawsuit.


Click here for the entire article

 

BMN Attorneys and Staff Participate in Warrior Dash

Quite a few attorneys and staff members participated in this year's Warrior Dash. The Warrior Dash is 3.15 miles filled with fire leaping, mud crawling and extreme obstacles all for the hope of winning a coveted Warrior Helmet.

Celebrating Two Years of WaterCooler: Young Entrepreneurs Networking in Nashville


Two years ago, I was talking with my friend Wade Munday about how I wanted to start a fun, informal, monthly event for young entrepreneurs in Nashville to meet each other.  The goal was to provide networking opportunities and to learn about interesting topics or hear from speakers within our own age range (20s through 40s).  He helped me come up with the name WaterCooler, which sounded a lot better than CornerOffice and other names that we considered.  Then he moved to Boston for a year before coming home and getting married.
My friend Renata Soto, who runs Conexión Americas, graciously agreed to co-chair and co-host these events with me.  Our first speaker was Kimberly Pace of Owen Management School at Vanderbilt University, who talked about personal brands:  how each of us creates a personal brand with every action or inaction that we take.  We hosted the first one at Cantina Laredo, which had awesome guacamole and margaritas, but didn’t have the best acoustics.  We later moved to 1808 Grille at The Hutton Hotel, which provided a rock star environment, but was too small for our growing crowds.  Then we moved to Miro District.  We decided it was time to take the show on the road.
During that time, we hosted some amazing speakers, ranging from Becca Stevens, who talked about her work with former prostitutes at Magdalene and Thistle Farms, to Clint Smith of Emma, Laura Creekmore, who gave an overview of social media (which now seems like it was eons ago), and Alan Young of Armor Concepts, whose products I see on billboards all around the city.
Our first field trip was to Yazoo Tap Room, where Linus Hall and Neil McCormick gave everyone a tour of their brewery and free tastes of Yazoo.  That event turned out to be our most popular yet, and it showed us that WaterCooler was good not only for participants (who, in that case, reaped free beer) but also for the hosts whose businesses we showcased, because it gave them an opportunity to connect with their audience and further build brand loyalty.  I know, for myself, that I buy a lot more Yazoo beer now than I did before, because I heard Linus’ story and know how fresh it is, in addition to merely wishing to support the local economy.
From there, we realized that our niche was really in focusing on locally-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, and not just hearing from a variety of speakers in our age range.  We went to Oliver & Sinclair Chocolate Factory, which was so jam packed that we had to turn people away at the doors for fear of overcrowding/fire marshals.  We also visited Corsair Distillery and heard from Darek Bell and his partner.  More recently, we toured CentreSource, then walked down the street to City House for drinks.
Our hope in doing this, in hosting and starting WaterCooler, was to build connections, for ourselves, and with each other.  We want folks to come whenever they’re inspired by the topic or have an interest in the location or the host or the product.  But we didn’t want to do anything that required people to sign up for one more commitment.  Everyone has enough of those already.  Because of that, we don’t have an official membership, and we don’t ask people to pay dues.  
We know that we are achieving our goal, because we have made connections with you resulting in new clients for our businesses/practices, new donors for our non-profits, new jobs, and more generally new friends.  And we know that you have done the same.  Emma has gotten new clients because one person who attended was impressed with Clint Smith's story.  And at least one person has gotten a new job because of a relationship she made while trying to attend our event at Olive & Sinclair.  These are the sorts of things we want to happen with WaterCooler.  If you have more examples of good connections that you’ve made, or if you have interesting locally-owned businesses based in Nashville that you want to highlight, please let us know.  These are the stories that we want to help you tell.

Celebrating Two Years of WaterCooler: Young Entrepreneurs Networking in Nashville


Two years ago, I was talking with my friend Wade Munday about how I wanted to start a fun, informal, monthly event for young entrepreneurs in Nashville to meet each other.  The goal was to provide networking opportunities and to learn about interesting topics or hear from speakers within our own age range (20s through 40s).  He helped me come up with the name WaterCooler, which sounded a lot better than CornerOffice and other names that we considered.  Then he moved to Boston for a year before coming home and getting married.

My friend Renata Soto, who runs Conexión Americas, graciously agreed to co-chair and co-host these events with me.  Our first speaker was Kimberly Pace of Owen Management School at Vanderbilt University, who talked about personal brands:  how each of us creates a personal brand with every action or inaction that we take.  We hosted the first one at Cantina Laredo, which had awesome guacamole and margaritas, but didn’t have the best acoustics.  We later moved to 1808 Grille at The Hutton Hotel, which provided a rock star environment, but was too small for our growing crowds.  Then we moved to Miro District.  We decided it was time to take the show on the road.

During that time, we hosted some amazing speakers, ranging from Becca Stevens, who talked about her work with former prostitutes at Magdalene and Thistle Farms, to Clint Smith of Emma, Laura Creekmore, who gave an overview of social media (which now seems like it was eons ago), and Alan Young of Armor Concepts, whose products I see on billboards all around the city.

Our first field trip was to Yazoo Tap Room, where Linus Hall and Neil McCormick gave everyone a tour of their brewery and free tastes of Yazoo.  That event turned out to be our most popular yet, and it showed us that WaterCooler was good not only for participants (who, in that case, reaped free beer) but also for the hosts whose businesses we showcased, because it gave them an opportunity to connect with their audience and further build brand loyalty.  I know, for myself, that I buy a lot more Yazoo beer now than I did before, because I heard Linus’ story and know how fresh it is, in addition to merely wishing to support the local economy.

From there, we realized that our niche was really in focusing on locally-owned businesses and entrepreneurs, and not just hearing from a variety of speakers in our age range.  We went to Oliver & Sinclair Chocolate Factory, which was so jam packed that we had to turn people away at the doors for fear of overcrowding/fire marshals.  We also visited Corsair Distillery and heard from Darek Bell and his partner.  More recently, we toured CentreSource, then walked down the street to City House for drinks.

Our hope in doing this, in hosting and starting WaterCooler, was to build connections, for ourselves, and with each other.  We want folks to come whenever they’re inspired by the topic or have an interest in the location or the host or the product.  But we didn’t want to do anything that required people to sign up for one more commitment.  Everyone has enough of those already.  Because of that, we don’t have an official membership, and we don’t ask people to pay dues. 

We know that we are achieving our goal, because we have made connections with you resulting in new clients for our businesses/practices, new donors for our non-profits, new jobs, and more generally new friends.  And we know that you have done the same.  Emma has gotten new clients because one person who attended was impressed with Clint Smith's story.  And at least one person has gotten a new job because of a relationship she made while trying to attend our event at Olive & Sinclair.  These are the sorts of things we want to happen with WaterCooler.  If you have more examples of good connections that you’ve made, or if you have interesting locally-owned businesses based in Nashville that you want to highlight, please let us know.  These are the stories that we want to help you tell.