Tag Archives: chamber of commerce

Of comfort zones and jumping out of them!

I’m not a super adventurous kind of athlete.  I actually *really*, *really*, *really* hesitate to use the word “athlete” to describe me at all.

Full Definition of ATHLETE

:  a person who is trained or skilled in exercises, sports, or games requiring physical strength, agility, or stamina

Examples of ATHLETE

  1. Athletes from around the world will be competing at the Olympics.
  2. She was quite an athlete as a child.

Origin of ATHLETE

Middle English, from Latin athleta, from Greek athlētēs, fromathlein to contend for a prize, from athlon prize, contest

First Known Use: 15th century
Not me.  I am more like the Energizer Bunny … I just keep going but not anything remotely resembling “elegant” or “graceful” or looking good during or afterward.  In fact, this is me:
So, for me to get out of my comfort zone with what I’m doing for my workouts is pretty hard.  I’m thinking most of you who are working through the process of lifestyle change are the same, right?
Well, beginning this week and for the next 8 weeks,  I am not only stepping out of my comfort zone but am leaping about 3 counties out of my comfort zone.  Led by the amazing Kari Merrill,  Group Fitness Director at Western Racquet , 25 amazing women (and, well, me)  are taking part in the “Metabolic Meltdown AMPED UP” program.  It is 8 weeks of hard core fitness, fun, sweat, support and HOMEWORK.  Holy.Bears. the homework is intense.  Like scary intense.
But, I need a change.  A push.  My Fitness Energizer Bunny batteries, after nearly 3 full years, are running down and they need to be changed out.  I know this will be so hard, but it is what I need.  So, if  like me:
  • you are feeling stuck …
  • feeling like you are no longer making progress …
  • feeling like your get-up-and-go for fitness has gotten-up-and-left …


then I encourage you – no I challenge you to jump out of your comfort zone!  There are a zillion different things you can try … add weights, use the Arc Trainer instead of the Treadmill, do a class, try heated yoga, play racquetball, meet with a personal trainer.  Whatever you have been doing, just do something different and new and scary. You can only get better and more healthy.  And if you hate it, you will have other choices to try.

Here is the motto for the rest of 2014:
Let me know what you do!

Making the Most of Your Local Chamber of Commerce

I was just out doing some research for topics for upcoming presentations and I found this article.  I know, I know it may seem self-serving but I found it really interesting … read on ….

JoAnne Berg is a trusted business advisor with over 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, CFO/COO, and CPA/advisor to closely held businesses. Read her blogs at The Art of Small Business. Her newest venture is Peer Coaching Network, Inc., which provides affordable training and peer based group coaching to small business owners. Follow her on Twitter @JoAnneBerg and Facebook.

Are you a member of your local Chamber of Commerce? If so, are you getting your money’s worth? If not, what are you missing out on?

Chambers exist to serve their members and help them to be more successful. They are supported by membership dues, which are usually based on the size of your business. Your dues are tax deductible as a business expense.

Most businesses benefit in some way from membership, and small businesses often benefit dramatically from the power of joining together with their peers in this way. Here are some of the things that local Chambers do for the business community, along with a few suggestions for getting the most from your membership.

Government Relations

Chambers represent the viewpoints of their members in front of governments and advocate for their business interests when necessary. Your dues support the efforts that the Chamber makes on your behalf to make your community a better place to do business. This alone is a reason to become a member! If you’re interested in getting more involved, most chambers have a Governmental Affairs committee that members can join.

Be sure to attend Chamber forums and events featuring political candidates and elected officials. You’ll often have an opportunity to meet them, ask questions, and perhaps even give them your opinion about important decisions that impact your business.


For many of us, it’s important to be visible. Chambers sponsor social events and networking groups that are designed for members to meet and do business together. If your business depends on local-business generation, this is an opportunity that you shouldn’t pass up. Even if your customer base is not local, the connections you make can be an invaluable source of local goods and services for your business needs.

Also, check out your Chamber’s Ambassador Committee if you’d like to have a built-in opportunity to welcome and meet new members.


When you’re a member, you’ll be listed in the Chamber directory, but your opportunities for promoting your business don’t stop there. Chambers have websites, newsletters, newspapers, brochures, and more. They sell advertising in most of these, and you have to be a member to advertise. The costs are generally modest, and if your target market includes other Chamber members, the ROI can be fantastic.


Many Chambers really shine in this department. Training yourself and your staff can be expensive, but it’s important to keep up with new developments and continue improving everyone’s business skills. Chambers offer classes, workshops, and seminars, taught by member professionals, at a low cost to members. These professionals go out of their way to do a great job since their community reputation is at stake. Recent topics I’ve seen include social media training, patents and trademarks, OSHA regulations, sexual harassment training, human resource issues, tax law changes, etc.


Businesses and residents that are new to a community frequently call the local Chamber of Commerce for referrals for the goods and services they need. Guess what? If you’re not a member, Chamber staff can’t refer you. Take the time to get to know the staff of your local Chamber, and make sure that they have the information they need to send business your way.

Committee Membership

Volunteering to serve on a Chamber committee that fits your interests or expertise creates leadership opportunities, helps you become better known in the community, and can help position you as an expert in your field. For example, I served for many years on my local Chamber’s Business Resource committee, which was a great source for business leads and ultimately led to a seat on the Chamber Board of Directors. In addition to the Governmental Affairs, Ambassador, and Business Committees, many Chambers have Education Committees, and if you’re interested in green business techniques, many Chambers are now forming Green or Sustainability Committees.

Every Chamber is different, and there may be other opportunities in yours that I haven’t mentioned here. If you’re not already a member, I encourage you to find out more, and if you are a member, take another look at what your Chamber offers. You may be pleasantly surprised!



A quick pit stop

Not quite as quick as a NASCAR pit stop but hopefully a quick one!  I went to the meeting yesterday regarding the Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative and I will post about that but first, my pit stop.

One of the programs that we conduct here at the De Pere Chamber is called Live Healthy Brown County, a community and worksite-based wellness program.  Most of our members have less than 70 employees so having these types of resources available to them is important, since they probably don’t have a dedicated staff person for this type of initiative themselves.  This is the third year and we just motor along letting people know what we’re doing, inviting them to join in as well as providing information.  Occasionally though, we get reminded that not all of us are on the same page as far as what and why we are doing things as a Chamber.  This morning was one of those times.

Each Tuesday, we publish an e-newsletter for the Live Healthy Brown County program.  The newsletter features a healthy tip from our sponsor Aurora BayCare Medical Center, a healthy recipe, information on activities going on in the community for fun and activity, and links to articles we found interesting.  Today, in reply to this weeks edition, a long time valued member and friend replied with, “Interesting reading.  But I still don’t see what this has to do with Chamber of Commerce Business.”

My initial response was a bit of furrowed brow and then I realized that while I would of course respond to him;  this is an opportunity for me to make sure that we are engaging with our other members and community members as well.

This is how I replied:

This is the third year that the Chamber has been managed the Live Healthy Brown County program. As the workforce gets older and smaller, the Chamber recognized that we need to encourage members of our workforce and our community to live healthier lives so that they can be more productive workers. Many studies regarding “quality-of-life” have also shown that communities place an emphasis on community health and worksite wellness have a better return on their workforce expansion/retention efforts.

 Additionally, beginning January 1st with the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, the shift to “community rating” will link the wellness/illness of our community members to our health insurance costs giving all of us a stake in promoting wellness.  Finally, also beginning January 1st, companies that offer wellness programs can hit workers who don’t meet certain health targets — such as lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, or body-mass index — with premiums that are as much as 30 percent higher than other employees’. Smokers who don’t quit face even bigger expenses: companies can charge them up to 50 percent more than other workers. Since business pushed very hard for those components to be included, we feel it is very much the business of the chamber of commerce, as a business organization charged with community and economic development, to be a leader in information, education and resources in this area.

 I hope that helps!

He answered back, “Well done…. Thank you.”

I truly do welcome these opportunities.  Not only does it allow me to clarify questions and respond to member concerns, but also allows me to talk about what we’re doing and why.  Everyone who knows me for longer than three minutes knows that I’m very enthusiastic and passionate about what we’re doing here and why we’re doing it.

During yesterday’s Path to Leadership session, Wendy Franklin asked the question, “why is mission important?”  And I answered with something along the lines of, “If it’s not mission-critical we stop doing it.  Mission is not only what drives the organization, it’s what drives me personally.”

Emails like the one I got this morning remind me about our mission and remind me why we need to tell our story of what we’re doing.  We can’t tell it just once or twice and think that’s enough we have to continue to do it.  We have to continue to show our relevance and we have to continue to sell the value.

There, pit stop done! Thanks for the reminder, thanks for the mission, thanks for the time!


Financial Fitness

Yes, dear reader … I’m behind again!

We had De Pere at Dawn again this week which reminded me that I didn’t post notes from February’s event and I’ve neglected you!  It was a great duo of experts:  Chris Battle, Financial Advisor with NEW Wall Street, and Debra Verstegen, Commercial Insurance Advisor with Dickenshied Cravillion Insurance Services, gave our attendees some incredible information to help them be and/or get financially fit.

Chris Battle handled the financial side.  Some tidbits:

  • 40% max debt to income but based on stability of Job and income and length of time in job
  • 30% of debt is ok
  • Start putting money in retirement as soon as possible
  • Stock Market:  anticipating a 20% correction then it will go up again
  • Make sure your debt is manageable and you’ve got the lowest interest rate you can
  • Inflation will be coming – wages are starting to go up. Inventories are down because they are making fewer of their product
  • Housing inventories are very low
  • Age 50 is the catch up age for retirement account catch-up.  $5,500 per year and over 50 can put on additional $1,000 per year
  • You can put $13,000 annually into a Simple IRA as business owner
  • With a solo 401k can put $30,000-$40,000
  • Max out contributions into IRAs.  Roth IRA’s are a better hedge against future inflation and taxes because you pay the taxes along the way
  • Pay taxes on 401k based on how much you take out on an annual income
  • Check with employer to see if you can put money into in their plan in a Roth-like manner
  • If leave job, don’t roll into new employer’s plan. Roll into Tradition IRA then convert some or all into a Roth.

Deb Verstegen gave some great information of very important points of information around insurance for businesses.  I’ve loaded Deb’s presentation to Slideshare and the link is HERE. One highlight I really took away was the importance of knowing what your policy says about subrogation.

  • Verify your information in your policy.
    • Make sure it is right
    • Pay attention to details
  • Read exclusions – make sure you know before it is too late – “punitive damages exclusions” especially as business owner
  • Employment related practices liability – make sure you have this if you have employees. Don’t assume it is in your general commercial liability, it most often is not.