Friday, December 10, 2010

A Fellow Alaskan Adds To Durham’s Reputation

I’ve lived in Durham, North Carolina longer than any other place in my life now, but a part of me will always be Alaskan, sorry Sarah.   When I met Ari Zandman-Zeman for the first time this week, it didn’t take but five minutes for us to discover we’d both lived in Anchorage, where he was  born and raised and I was recruited to head the community marketing agency for most of the 1980s prior to being recruited here to jump-start Durham’s in 1989.rubberbanditz-seal 

Ari followed Duke star Trajan Langdon at East Anchorage High School and played Division I college basketball in Colorado (at the “real” UNC) before a stint in the U.S. Peace Corps and then making his way to Durham.  While lending his talents to Bull City Forward, founded by Life Entrepreneurs author Chris Gergen, Ari’s also adding to Durham’s considerable reputation for social entrepreneurship, the pioneers of which were celebrated a few years ago at Durham’s Annual Tribute Luncheon.

He’s the owner and Exercise Rubberlutionary at  Drawing from his experience as a college athlete, Ari has adapted and improved these exercise  products for business travelers, office jockeys, couch potatoes, deployed military personnel and just about anyone who wants to exercise but does not have access to a gym.  I think It will be a huge success and after meeting Ari, I even ordered a set myself.

That might be enough for a “simple” entrepreneur but not for the social entrepreneur. Ari’s real goal is to ultimately leverage the means to spur a greater interest and involvement in physical fitness  among low wealth neighborhoods, households and families.

It was a pleasure to meet Ari and discover our “Last Frontier” bond.  Once an Alaskan, always an Alaskan.   I recall that for several years after leaving Alaska, I’d get a call from the late Bill Tobin, an editor, editorial writer and columnist for the Anchorage Times and then the Anchorage Daily News, just checking on how I was doing and usually following up with a mention in his column to update my friends.

I remember that I had been in Durham several years when I received a phone call from a lady in Anchorage, whom I had never met, asking if I would pick her teen age daughter up at RDU and make sure she got settled okay at the American Dance Festival camp she was coming here to attend.  Alaska is a huge state geographically but with a population not much larger than the Durham metro area but once Alaskan, always an Alaskan.

I’m sorry I missed a write-up about Ari a year ago by Monica Chen in the Herald-Sun but I had my hands full wrapping up a nearly 40 year career before retirement.

Best wishes Ari and thanks for adding to Durham’s exploding reputation, not just for entrepreneurs but social entrepreneurs, and for extending several of this community's inherent, overarching brand values.

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