Female Entrepreneurship

Strong Women Creating Value 2019: Danielle Teal, Founder of Caring Acts of Kindness Everywhere

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Rochester woman Danielle Teal says kindness has changed her life and impacts her every decision. She believes that kindness is an underrated tool to motivate community change. Fueled by this passion, Teal founded the initiative Caring Acts of Kindness Everywhere (CAKE) to publicly share local acts of kindness to normalize the behavior and to inspire acts of kindness on a larger level. 

CAKE is a volunteer group in the community that utilizes social media “to motivate change and influence people to carry out acts of kindness,” Teal explained. 

Some individuals strongly believe that acts of kindness should remain anonymous, which Teal says, CAKE supports. She hopes, however, that CAKE is changing any negative connotations associated with sharing acts of kindness publicly. Teal says studies demonstrate that both recipients and witnesses of public acts of kindness are inspired by that act, enough to often perform an act of kindness themselves.

“Our goal is to share public acts of kindness to create opportunities for people to do it collectively as a group in mass quantities and to really motivate and inspire change in the community to normalize kindness,” she said. 

Acts of kindness don’t necessarily have to be big. They can be as simple as buying someone a cup of coffee, volunteering, or just offering a stranger a genuine smile. 

Kindness, Teal explained, also involves giving people grace and the space and forgiveness they need to navigate their feelings and experiences. This doesn’t excuse abusive behavior, she explained. However, Teal says we are all human and perfection does not exist. 

While operating CAKE takes a large amount of effort, Teal’s driven by “the impact and the results from the recipients and watching a kindness initiative continue. It truly is a ripple effect and you can see it.” As a mom of two, she wants her daughters to be positive individuals who promote kindness. 

“[Kindness] has changed the way I parent. It has changed the way I interact in a work environment. It’s changed me in the community. I am not perfect by any means,” Teal said. “I am absolutely not perfect. But I try to do my best every single day.”

Join us for this new workshop event to bring forth our best selves. Ticket prices will increase on March 25th. Click image for more information and to register.

Join us for this new workshop event to bring forth our best selves. Ticket prices will increase on March 25th. Click image for more information and to register.

Inspiring acts of kindness in others, however, does sometimes have hurdles. At times, when a call to action for a kindness initiative is shared there’s a large outpouring of support. Such is the case in the fall when seeking volunteers to pack Thanksgiving meals. However, Teal said, sometimes kindness is not seen as a viable option to resolve an issue or bring about change. She sees this gap particularly in leadership and teamwork.

Kindness and compassion, Teal said, are surprisingly effective tools to increase productivity and to influence team dynamics.

Kindness, she explained, promotes long term change. 

“It makes people feel valued and it increases the bridge of connection to understanding. It cultivates a culture that makes people want to be a part of and that’s what makes things continue to be enhanced, to get better,” Teal explained. 

Kindness, she said, matters.

“It’s not that [CAKE] is looking for the gratitude and it’s not that we are looking for the ‘thank you’s. It truly is the group and myself. We are not looking for anything in return,” Teal explained. “But when you see the impact that [kindness] really changes someone else’s day and it impacts them in a positive way and you know that it’s an enhancement in their life, that’s why it matters.”

Strong Women Creating Value Season 1 Episode 2: Danielle Teal

In celebration of Women’s History Month, we continue our “Strong Women Creating Value” conversation by chatting with Danielle Teal, Founder of CAKE - Caring Acts of Kindness Everywhere. CAKE is a community initiative that “utilize[s] social contagion through public Random Acts of Kindness in mass efforts to help cultivate positive inspiring change”.

"I would say if you have a dream, if you have a goal, the first thing to do is to act on it." -Danielle Teal

Strong Women Creating Value 2019: Christine Beech, Director of the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies

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To celebrate Women’s History Month, we’re bringing back our popular “Strong Women Creating Value” series, telling the stories of four innovative women in Rochester. This year all four women were selected based on nominations from the community

To launch this series for 2019, today we chat with the amazing Christine Beech, Director of the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.

In her role at the Kabara Institute, Christine fosters a spirit of entrepreneurship among her students and connects them to the surrounding entrepreneurial communities in both Winona and Rochester.

Christine’s nominator explained that she “goes very unrecognized for all of her efforts. As a newer member of the Rochester community, she put in a large amount of time and effort to meet with people in the community to understand the culture, understand what was needed, and understand where she could plug in. She always listens and asks advice of others. She does all these things without expectation of anything in return.”

Christine recently developed and launched a series of women-focused events, called WE (Women Entrepreneurs) forums, in partnership with Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. and others in the community. She held her first packed house event in January during a snowstorm. Her second event, a business development workshop, will be held in late March.

“What I think we are creating now is a platform for women-focused and women entrepreneurial community development with conversations around the issues that are facing them,” she explained.

Christine hopes to hold forums, which utilize a panel format, quarterly, and workshop events, where women focus on and work ona specific business skill sets, in between the forums. 

“One of my hopes is that one of the things that we’ll do with this forum is to create a place where women can come together and collaborate and work together,” she said.

Christine sees many talented women in the community who can speak at these forums and lead the workshops.

“We would like to create a venue where we are tapping into that talent for the benefit of the growing ecosystem,” she explained.

She sees new businesses as the “lifeblood of the economy.” However, many entrepreneurs starting new ventures lack focused business training and don’t know where to go for support. 

“I think there’s a need in the community for imparting those skills,” she explained. “We are starting with the female-focused group because I think that group specifically seems to be craving that kind of support for their business efforts.” 

This event takes place on Sunday March 31st from 10:30-12PM. Click the image for more information and to snag your ticket!

This event takes place on Sunday March 31st from 10:30-12PM. Click the image for more information and to snag your ticket!

This initiative is partly driven by her own experience. Christine spent fourteen years in business development before joining Kabara and recognized a lack of support for these efforts in her community. After joining academia, she saw a chance to give back to people who were in the early stages of building a business or had reached a plateau in business growth.

Christine additionally sees an immense need for evidence-based information on business development- putting numbers behind what works and what doesn’t work- instead of the typical personal anecdotes supplied by most mentors. She hopes to gather this type of informative data through the WE Forum events. 

While Christine knew these women-focused events were needed, there were several challenges she faced to get women to actually attend them. The first was brand recognition. Most people in Rochester associate the name “Saint Mary’s” with a hospital, not an academic institution. Many people are also unaware that Saint Mary’s even has a presence in Rochester, which is located in the northwest region of the city at the beautiful Cascade Meadow Wetlands. Her second challenge was connecting these events to the women most in need. To do this, Christine utilized her network, partnering with over twelve different institutions to help spread the word to diverse groups and get buy in from the community.

As a whole, Christine thinks it’s a good time to be part of the female entrepreneurial community in Rochester.

“We have incredible, brilliant physicians. We have women leading regional initiatives. We have women in a lot of very key points. So that, I think, is going to make a more attractive environment for female business startups,” she explained.

To accomplish this, Christine thinks women need to have their own network that’s collaborative, not competitive.

“And they need to plug in and start leveraging each other. I feel like that’s just building. It’s not quite there yet,” she said.

Strong Women Creating Value Season 1, Episode 1: Christine Beech

In celebration of Women's History Month we chat with Christine Beech, an example of just one strong woman creating value in the Rochester community. Christine is currently the Director of the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. Christine is also a mom, veteran, entrepreneur, business owner, consultant and a strong female leader in this city.

Rochester Rising Seeking Your Nominations of Visionary Women in the Community for Return of "Strong Women Creating Value" Series

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This March marks the 41st anniversary of Women’s History Month, a celebration of female contributions to history and society. This festivity is also, historically, associated with a theme. This year, Women’s History Month is focused on “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence.” 

To celebrate this month and to showcase local visionary women making lasting contributions to our community, we’re continuing our “Strong Women Creating Value” series that we began on Rochester Rising last year.

This year we’re asking for nominations for this series.

What visionary Rochester women do you know who have identified a real need in the community and launched a business or non-profit, created an initiative, or brought about needed change in this city to address that need?

Please use this form to send your nominations by Friday February 22nd.

Your name
Your name
Who are you nominating for the "Strong Women Creating Value" series? *
Who are you nominating for the "Strong Women Creating Value" series?

Here’s to all the strong women creating value in our community.

Is your business interested in sponsoring this series? Send us an email for pricing inquiries.

Women Entrepreneurial Panel Says the Money Is Out There To Fund Local Women-Led Businesses

Photo courtesy of Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc.

Photo courtesy of Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc.

Last week over fifty intrepid women braved a winter storm to attend a Women Entrepreneurs Forum on funding sources. The event, led by Rochester Area Economic Development, Inc. and Saint Mary’s Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies, provided a connection point for business women in the local ecosystem and brought to the surface funding pain points experienced by these innovators. 

The forum included a panel discussion featuring Jennifer Gowin, a Commercial Local Officer with Premier Banks Rochester, Cathy Connett, CEO and Managing Partner of the Sofia Fund, an angel investment fund for high growth potential women-led businesses, and Laura Hart, Loan Officer with the 504 Corporation

Although at the national level, women-led businesses receive less investments and less capital via bank loans than male-led companies, Gowin and Hart aren’t necessarily seeing this phenomenon at the local level. Though Gowin sees the same size of business loans being awarded to men and women, she’s observed more men than woman applying for loans to fund their company. Hart explained that the funding is out there. But it’s unclear to her if women are not aware of these opportunities or choose to not pursue them. In the venture capital and angel funding world, where there are more male than female investors, the picture is a little more lop-sided.

“Typically, unfortunately, like invests in like,” Connett explained.

Although there are less women investors in general, female business owners, Connett said, also typically wait too long to seek equity investment than their male counterparts.

“Women often want to have everything lined up before they [seek funding]. Whether it’s a bank loan, or whether it’s equity, or anything else,” she explained. 

Women, Connett said, are just as likely to be risk takers as men.

“But I think we don’t want to expose ourselves to risk sometimes,” she explained. 

When looking at loans and investments to any business, the panel said, several factors contribute to the final decision. As a bank, Gowan explained, her employer is fairly conservative when granting loans. Banks typically assess business collateral. If light, the bank will also look at personal assets and personal credit. They will also closely assess the business owner and her level of understanding of her business and the associated industry plus her ability as a founder to overcome any associated risks. 

The team’s capacity to overcome adversity, Connett explained, is a significant factor in angel and venture capital investment.

Excitement, passion, the ability to tell a compelling story, and a clear need for the business in the community are all vital pieces to secure funding, the panel explained.

Resources to fund female, and male, owned businesses are out there. As women, we just have to put ourselves out there and go after it. 

“Events like this are important as they allow entrepreneurs to come together and learn, develop community, and share resources. This event specifically created a venue for women entrepreneurs to increase their knowledge on the opportunities and barriers they face in funding their businesses,” said Christine Beech, Executive Director of the Kabara Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies. “The speakers and roundtable discussions were designed to help these entrepreneurs develop new strategies to identify opportunities to fund and grow their businesses.”

Future events and workshops like this funding forum are in the planning stages to address additional unmet needs for local business women.

New Childcare Center Hosts Open House Today!

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Stewartville, MN (Wednesday, October 24, 2018) – Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center, LLC, a newly constructed childcare center in Stewartville with capacity for 99 children, will be opening its doors next week. The Center is holding an open house to showcase their progress to the public for the first time on Thursday. The open house details are included here: 

When:  Thursday, October 25, 2018

Time:    4 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Where: 200 Schumann Drive NW, Stewartville, MN

Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center is hosting this open house to help families understand the significant features and services offered by their facility and talented team of caring professionals.  The open house will include tours of the premises and light refreshments. 

“Now that construction is completed, we are ready to start inspiring life-long learning in all of our children,” said owner Krystal Campbell. “We’re excited to welcome the public in to experience how we plan to celebrate and the uniqueness of all of the children we will serve!”

This open house is free to attend and is open to the public.

About Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center, LLC

Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center, LLC is family owned and operated by Krystal and Patrick Campbell.

The center focuses on the provision of a safe, nurturing, and developmentally appropriate environment for children from six weeks to age twelve. An emphasis is placed on the value and uniqueness of each child that is served.

As caregivers and educators, the team at Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center strives to promote each child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. Their programs plant seeds of knowledge in every child to inspire life-long learning.

For more information about Sprouts Childcare & Early Education Center, please visit www.sprouts-childcare.com

#Emerge Episode 22 with Janessa Nickell

Today on #Emerge we sit down with Portland native and current Rochester resident Janessa Nickell. Janessa is a business strategist turned entrepreneur who also formerly trained for Olympic weight lifting. Janessa recently launched her entrepreneurial vision with her brand-new business Sacred Circle, which she runs in her home in southwest Rochester. Sacred Circle is a space for people to learn, connect with like-minded individuals, and grow while understanding more about themselves through introspection and reflection.

“On paper it seemed like I had my stuff together. I was pretty successful by a lot of measurements. I was also incredibly burned out and tired.” -Janessa Nickell, Founder of Sacred Circle

Press Release: Rochester Public Schools Girls Win $10,000 Prize in Minnesota Cup

Photo courtesy of Technovation[MN]. B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A students and professional mentors.

Photo courtesy of Technovation[MN]. B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A students and professional mentors.

MINNEAPOLIS -- A team of three middle school and two high school girls from Rochester Public Schools won the $10,000 Sunrise Banks prize in the 14th annual Minnesota Cup business startup competition held by the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management.

The girls developed a cell phone app named Bridge that provides resources for immigrants to improve their quality of life in an unfamiliar community by helping them access banking and broader financial support.

The team, called B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A., is sponsored by the local chapter of the Black Data Processing Associates (BDPA) and the Rochester Public Schools (RPS) and developed its app in cooperation with a local nonprofit, the Diversity Council. 

This past May the girls first submitted their app at Minneapolis’ fifth annual Technovation “Appapalooza” meet, a competition for middle and high school girls that is part of a global program.  They ranked highest in the high school division and thus qualified automatically as a semifinalist for the Minnesota Cup.

In mid-2017 a different RPS high school team sponsored by the BDPA, called SKeMAS, became a first runner-up in the Technovation Challenge globally and was awarded $5,000 in scholarship money as a result.  One of the five B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A. girls was on a BDPA middle school team that was a Technovation qualifier at the Appapalooza in 2016.  In 2015, a team from Kasson-Mantorville Middle School was one of only four finalists in its division worldwide at the global Technovation finals held in San Francisco.  

The Minnesota Cup is the largest statewide startup competition in the country.  The SKeMAS team was a finalist in the 2017 Minnesota Cup youth division as well as in the Women-Led teams division where they competed against adult teams.  B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A. likewise competed against at adult teams for the Sunrise Banks prize.

Students on the B.A.S.I.C. B.A.L.S.A include: Audrey Whitney, Bailey Klote, Anjali Donthi, Alexandra Bancos, and Simran Sandhu. Professional mentors for the team included: Ginny McCright, Kris Whitney, Scott Klote, Gina Whitney, and Courtney Kramer.

Sunrise Banks:  As stated at https://sunrisebanks.com/about-us/who-we-are/, this financial institution “innovates in the financial services industry and strives for financial inclusion for all. Sunrise Banks is a family owned national chartered bank headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota and has a long history of serving inner city communities in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The bank's six branches are primarily located in the urban core of Minneapolis and St. Paul.”

What is Technovation[MN]? A 12-week program that connects professional mentors to all-girl teams to enable girls to dream up, design, and code mobile phone apps.  Coaches keep the teams on track with the support of a few professional mentors.  Each team of up to five girls develops a real-world combination of technical and entrepreneurial skills as they code an app and prepare to pitch their idea at Minnesota's statewide event in early May, the Appapalooza. Selected teams have the opportunity to advance and compete in the global Technovation Challenge, as did a middle school team from Kasson-Mantorville in 2015 (which also led to participating in the 2016 White House Science Fair).

Technovation was brought to Southeastern MN by Code Savvy, Technovation[MN], Preventice Technologies (Rochester office), and the former Rochester Area Math Science Partnership (RAMSP), now called STEM Forward; in the Rochester area Technovation has received financial support from IBM and the Mayo Clinic.

Where Are They Now?: HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management

Photo courtesy of HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management.

Photo courtesy of HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management.

One year ago we shared the story of HGR Real Estate Cooperative and Management, a cooperative-style real estate investment group started by local entrepreneurs Kim Gordon, Beth Nordaune, and Erin Nystrom. HGR, or HomeGirl Rochester, was launched in May 2017 to bring together groups and individuals who were interested in investing in real estate (primarily in rental home properties), but just did not have the time or finances to do so independently.

Since we last spoke with HGR a year ago, this trio of women has continued to make valuable connections with potential investors in the community to push their vision forward. 

“We’ve also met with people that want us to bring together groups and buy investments so that they can rent the houses from our group,” Gordon explained. “It is amazing to me how difficult it really is for many people to find affordable housing that is also in good condition.”

Over the past year, HGR formed their first group of five female investors utilizing this cooperative-style business model to purchase a home for a young client who had a credit score just one point too low to buy the home herself. With the help of HGR, this client will rent the home from the first investment group for two years, with the intent to purchase the home at the end of that time frame. This process will allow the client to improve her credit score and amass a larger down payment. 

 “It was so great to not only have success with HGR, to bring a group together that has wanted to invest, but it had a ‘feel-good’ story with it too,” Gordon said. 

Over the next five years, HGR aims to invest in five more rental properties with this first group of women. The business hopes to additionally create two more investor groups to purchase a rental property this fall using the same cooperative model.  

“It is still a huge goal to reach out to as many people as possible to tell them about our concept and continue to build interest,” explained Gordon.

The business has investors seeking involvement in even bigger real estate projects; now HGR is tasked with finding just the right partners to make these visions come to life.

Branding- It’s More than just a Logo. How to Tell Your Story with Centric Creative Consulting

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“There’s so much more to creating a brand and marketing your business than a cool logo,” explained Kati Cooley, Owner and Principal Creative Strategist at Centric Creative Consulting.

After being in business for over two and a half years, Centric itself recently re-branded to better convey their message and serve their clients through brand development, market strategy, and business consulting services.

“While a logo is important,” Cooley said, “delving into your business’s brand is key. It answers the who, how, and why behind the business, its principles, and why the business exists.”

Centric Owner, Kati Cooley. Photo courtesy of Centric Creative Consulting.

Centric Owner, Kati Cooley. Photo courtesy of Centric Creative Consulting.

Consumers now want to understand the person behind the business and feel like they are supporting the business owner as an individual, Cooley explained. The emotional connection your brand creates to potential consumers, through effective storytelling, is instrumental to foster this interaction and add value for the brand to your clients.

A business’s brand (that emotional connection), identity (all of the visual aspects of the brand), and logo (the brand identity in its most simplistic form) also need to be consistent, Cooley explained. Ensuring this alignment creates a memorable product or service and gives a business an edge over the competition.

However, implementing all of these concepts to accurately convey the personality of a business is challenging. It’s easy for business owners to get overwhelmed in this process and not have the expertise or adequate time to devote to brand development, in addition to actually running the business. With all the marketing options out there, it’s also not difficult to get inundated with information and fail to land on the best strategy to reach the target customer.

That’s where Centric Creative Consulting can help.

Cooley herself is a strong strategist and big picture thinker, with the keen ability to connect and communicate to drive brand and market strategy. Centric also partners with web developers, graphic designers, photographers, and videographers on individual projects to connect clients to the expertise they need to accurately develop and convey their brand messaging.

“It’s too hard when you’re in the middle of it,” Cooley explained.

Even with the re-branding of Centric, Cooley sought outside perspective to narrow in on the most important aspects of her business and why the business was important to her clients.

“When you’re in the thick of your business, you can’t do that objectively,” she said.

Centric, Cooley explained, can work with businesses during the entirety of their branding and marketing process as one central touchpoint.

Centric works with any type of business, large or small.

They also offer a wide range of flexibility in services, assisting companies at the inception of their business, at any stage during brand development and messaging, or even through a re-branding process. They can facilitate logo design, web development, social media strategy, customer engagement, and also serve in adaptable business consulting roles.

As an entrepreneur herself, Cooley enjoys creating and connecting with others.

“What really inspires me is I want to see people doing well for themselves. I want to see people living in their truth, doing what they love, and hopefully being successful at it. I don’t mean monetarily,” she explained. “But at the end of the day, if I can go to bed knowing I did my best for my clients, to me that’s a success.”

Want to better understand how Centric can help your business? Click the button below to connect.

Gender Communication Differences: What Can We Learn?

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While most of us have observed communication differences between men and women, these discrepancies are also well documented by psychological and scientific research. This article is not meant to separate genders into strict communication buckets. And it’s certainly not meant to encourage readers to change their own behavior. Instead, this piece is meant to open up the dialogue about different communication styles to help us better recognize patterns within ourselves and to enhance our interactions with others in both our personal and professional lives.

Improved communication, or an elevated understanding of divergent communication methods, can help to manage confrontation, aid in conflict resolution, relieve stress and anxiety, build stronger relationships, and meet our needs as humans for social interactions. Strong communication skills can facilitate goal achievement and improve job performance, especially in customer service and management positions.

Research shows that men and women are more likely to exhibit different styles of verbal communication. Men are more prone to adopt what is called “report talk,” while women gravitate more toward “rapport talk.”

“Report” style of communication is driven by the exchange of factual information to solve a given problem. This type of communication is direct and typically does not include any personal anecdotes or stories, with limited emotional connotation. This type of communication is aimed at building relationships based on solving that task at hand. “Report” communication users typically tend to dominate the conversation and speak for longer periods of time than other types of communicators.

“Rapport” communication, on the other hand, is aimed at building relationships and problem solving with the aid of those relationships. This style of communication includes more listening than “report” communication and involves the inclusion of more personal feelings and past experiences to solve tasks. “Rapport” communicators tend to problem solve as they are speaking and are more concerned with everyone equally contributing to the conversation. 

When speaking, women typically utilize a wider range of pitch and tonal variations compared to men, incorporating five tones into their voice versus the three tones expressed by men. This increased variation may underlie the stereotype that women tend to be more emotional speakers than men. 

Non-verbal signals are also important contributors to communication. Similar to divergent verbal communication styles, men and women tend to gravitate toward different methods in this type of communication. 

In general, women tend to condense their bodies into as compact a space as possible. This involves tucking in elbows, crossing legs, and keeping any materials in stacked piles. Women also tend to display more animated facial expressions, smile more, and make more eye contact than men. Men, on the other hand, tend to expand more than women into physical space and normally resume a more relaxed body posture. 

Again, these data are generalized statements and are not meant to convey that all men fit into one type of communication category and all women into another category. This is also not meant to position one style of communication as superior to the other. This discussion, instead, is just meant to describe two very general forms of communication so we can recognize them with the goal to improve our own communication and relationship building skills. 

However, we can all set ourselves up to be better communicators in the workplace if we practice something called executive presence. You don’t have to be a CEO to implement this style of communication. Instead, executive presence just involves exhibiting confidence, communicating clearly and efficiently, and reading an audience or situation effectively. Executive presence includes eliminating behavior like questioning ourselves as we speak, laughing nervously while talking, overly apologizing, storytelling in excess, and being extremely deferential. Instead, executive presence involves listening, talking efficiently to forward the conversation, speaking firmly, and standing/sitting tall.

Highly important to executive presence is a skill set called emotional intelligence (or EI). EI is a concept pioneered in 1990 by psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey. This behavior involves high levels of self-awareness, including the ability to perceive, understand, and interpret emotional information.

EI is useful for relationship building; highly effective leaders also typically have elevated levels of EI. 

Overall, neither gender appears to have an advantage over the other in the ability to practice or develop EI. Some studies suggest that women might be slightly better than men at displaying emotional empathy, one aspect of EI.

EI has even been observed in chimps. While in this case, female chimps tended to exhibit higher levels of empathy than males when interacting with other chimps. However, alpha males, the troupe leaders, generally displayed higher levels of empathy than even the females.

Want to learn more about differences in gender communication? Take a dive into the references below and join us tonight for a roundtable discussion at Little Thistle Brewing around this topic.

 

References:

1.     Capita3 materials and verbal communication. 2018.

2.     Kinsey Goman, Carol. “Is Your Communication Style Dictated by Your Gender?” Forbes. N.p., 31 May 2016. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

3.     Nelson, Audrey. “Gender Communication: It’s Complicated.” Psychology Today. N.p., 24 June 2016. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

4.     Graham, Debra. “Gender Styles in Communication.” University of Kentucky. 13 Sept. 2018.

5.     Mohindra, Vinita and Samina Azhar. (2012). Gender Communication: A Comparative Analysis of Communicational Appraoches of Men and Women at Workplaces. Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences. 2(1), 18-27.

6.     Goleman, Dan. “Are Women More Emotionally Intelligent Than Men?” Psychology Today. N.p., 29 April 2011. Web. 12 Sept. 2018.

7.     Barisco, Justin. “You Need to Learn How to Make Emotions Work for You, Instead of Against You. Here’s the Proof.” Inc. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

8.     Meshkat, Maryam and Reza Nejati. (2017). Does Emotional Intelligence Depend on Gender? A Study on Undergraduate English Majors of Three Iranian Universities. SAGE Open. July-September. 1-8.

9.     Lipman, Victor. “New Study Shows Women Consistently Outperform Men in Emotional Intelligence.” Forbes. N.p., 11 May 2016. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

10.  “Gender Issues: Communication Differences in Interpersonal Relationships.” The Ohio State University. Web. 13 Sept. 2018.

Press Release: Local Veteran, Mother, and Entrepreneur Makes Dream a Reality

Busy Baby LLC owner, Beth Fynbo. Photo courtesy of Busy Baby LLC.

Busy Baby LLC owner, Beth Fynbo. Photo courtesy of Busy Baby LLC.

Local mother Beth Fynbo possesses many attributes necessary to be a successful entrepreneur. With a military background, a degree in business management, and unstoppable determination, Fynbo always knew she wanted to run her own business someday. Yet it wasn’t until last year that her skills aligned with a passion and her entrepreneurship began. 

Shortly after the birth of her child, Fynbo dined out with friends and their children. The continuous dropping of toys and food was a distraction to the conversation.

“That night I scoured the internet looking for something I could buy to keep my baby busy in the restaurant when we go out to eat,” said Fynbo, creator of Busy Baby Mat. “I couldn’t find it, so I created it!” 

Resourceful Fynbo took to making her first mat with household items and soon learned it was well worth pursuing. The now professionally produced prototype is a silicone mat with suction cups underneath and a proprietary tether system for attaching toys. The mat rolls up for easy transport and when used also provides a clean, germ-free surface for the child. 

Photo courtesy of Busy Baby LLC.

Photo courtesy of Busy Baby LLC.

After market testing, it is clear the Busy Baby Mat is an answer to many meal-time issues.

“I had the opportunity to try the Busy Baby Mat with my 10 month old daughter, and it made for a relaxing family outing,” said Missy Johnson, product tester. “The tethers did a great job keeping her favorite toys within her reach and off the floor. With food and toys front and center, she was content and allowed Mom and Dad to enjoy more conversation.” 

A Kickstarter campaign launched on Saturday, September 1st to make this dream a reality. Reaching a goal of 3,000 preorders positions this product to move on to manufacturing allowing the Busy Baby Mat to hit shelves by the early 2019. Visit www.busybabymat.com and follow Busy Baby on Facebook to learn more and support this local entrepreneur’s dream. 

ABOUT BUSY BABY MAT

Busy Baby Mat, LLC is a product development company finding solutions to keep baby busy. Founded by Beth Fynbo in 2017, the company’s first product Busy Baby Mat will launch upon completion of a successful funding campaign. 

Rochester's Newest Taproom, Little Thistle Brewing, Opens Today

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Steve and Dawn Finnie have been crafting unique microbrews for the past decade. Now, the husband and wife team are set to open their own family-run taproom, Little Thistle Brewing, bringing a distinctive, modern feel and approachable beer menu to this city.

For Finnie, brewing began as a hobby. After getting introduced to the craft from a friend, he began creating experimental batches for others to enjoy while gathering at the Finnies’ home.

“We would just have people come to our house and make beer. We’d have parties and it was great to meet people from all over the world,” he explained. “And then we just kept doing that and then I think the hobby got a bit more serious.”

The brewing evolved onto such a scale that Finnie created a beer club, where friends would pay him $100 a year to help cover the cost of raw ingredients, allowing him to create even more beers. Many of these creations inspired the brews currently housed in Little Thistle’s 10-barrel (or 310 gallon) brewing system.

Little Thistle Brewing- named in homage to the national flower of Finnie’s native Scotland- is not the couple’s first professional brewing endeavor. A few years ago, Finnie, a trained physical therapist, left a fifteen-year career at Mayo Clinic to help create another brewery in Rochester. Finnie exited that business about two years ago.

“I’m glad we had the opportunity. We did it and we showed that we could brew beer,” he explained. “Now, this is exactly what we’ve wanted to do.”

Even before opening that first brewery, Finnie was crafting a business plan to create something as small as a nanobrewery, Dawn explained. Today, the Finnies’ vision is finally coming to fruition as they open the doors to Little Thistle.

While the process of launching the new brewery has been challenging, the largest hurdle, the Finnies explained, was finding a location for the business.

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“We would get in the car every night with the kids and drive around for months until we found something,” Finnie said.

The family traveled all over town knocking on doors to buildings, even buildings that were not for sale, Dawn joked, trying to find the ideal spot for their vision. The Finnies finally found the perfect location- a 5,000 square foot warehouse on two acres of land- in northwest Rochester nestled right next to the Douglas Trail.

Little Thistle Brewing is a taproom; no food will be served at the location without outside partnering.

“There is no confusion here. It’s all about beer, beer education, community, family, kids, dogs,” Finnie explained.

The taproom even has a motto: “Be humble, drink local.”

“We want [potential staff and employees] to work with us, not for us. And we really want to build that community from the ground up,” Dawn explained.

The business aims to appeal to everyone from the craft beer nerd to the light beer drinker.

“The beer is going to be the vehicle that brings people together. We want it to be unpretentious,” Dawn said.

Little Thistle will brew traditional beers, light lagers, experimental beers, barrel-aged beers, and cask ales, a traditional style beer in the United Kingdom with lower carbonation that’s served from a hand pump at a slightly warmer temperature. The brewery aims for quality versus quantity with the beers on tap, with most beers being served from more than one line to facilitate guest flow and enhance service at the bar area.

As the motto dictates, Little Thistle strives to support local businesses. The brewery looks forward to partnering with other Rochester establishments to provide different food options at the taproom. This “support local” approach extends to other breweries in the area as well, which Finnie does not view as competition.

“If someone goes to LTS or another brewery in town and they like the craft beer or never tried craft beer before, they are more likely to come to our place. …It just helps everyone,” he explained.

After years of working towards this point, Little Thistle Brewing is set to open up to the public for the first time today at noon. In the weeks leading up to this unveiling, the Finnies have alternated between excitement, sheer terror, and feeling like they’re just staying afloat.

“We’re on the final lap of this long marathon, I think,” Finnie laughed, “I’m just looking forward to being open and sitting on this deck and having a cold beer and watching people enjoy.”

Five Rochester Girls Seeking to Advanced their Mobile App to Final Round of Minnesota Cup

B.A.S.I.C. BALSA Team. Back row (from left to right): Simran Sandhu, Anjali Donthi, and Alexandra Bancos. Front row (from left to right): Audrey Whitney and Bailey Klote. Photo courtesy of Technovation[MN],

B.A.S.I.C. BALSA Team. Back row (from left to right): Simran Sandhu, Anjali Donthi, and Alexandra Bancos. Front row (from left to right): Audrey Whitney and Bailey Klote. Photo courtesy of Technovation[MN],

Five Rochester middle and high school girls are aiming to improve quality of life with their mobile phone application called Bridge. Team B.A.S.I.C. BALSA- comprised of Anjali Donthi, Simran Sandhu, Audrey Whitney, Alexandra Bancos, and Bailey Klote- placed first in the senior division of a state-wide tech competition. The girls are now making their way through the semifinal round of Minnesota Cup as the new school year approaches.

Bridge helps immigrants, refugees, and visitors locate necessary resources within their new communities like food, shelter, educational resources, and places of worship.

“Most of the members of our team, we have family who are immigrants. So that is how we chose to make an app that solved problems that immigrants faced,” explained Donthi, an incoming tenth grader at Century High School.

Users can search for resources within Bridge using six different languages including English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese, and Hindi. Overall, the app aims to improve quality of life. The team hopes to scale Bridge to benefit other communities beyond Rochester.

The Bridge app was coded over fifteen weeks this past school year- primarily by sixth grader Whitney- as part of the Technovation Challenge. Technovation is a global competition that encourages girls to solve problems they encounter in their everyday lives with technology. Throughout the challenge, teams of five work with volunteer mentors to create mobile app “startups”; many teams have no coding experience prior to the competition.

Technovation has proven success of increasing young girls’ interest in coding fields. Fifty-eight percent of Technovation alumni enroll in additional coding classes after the competition. Twenty-six percent of alumni major in computer science in college, compared to the 0.4% national average of first year female computer science majors.

This year, ~19,000 young girls registered for the Technovation Challenge.

The Minnesota branch of the competition, called Technovation[MN], culminated in a statewide competition called Appapalooza in May, where teams showcased their mobile technology and business plan, which included marketing and financial strategies. This year, a record high seventy-five teams competed in Appapalooza, with nine teams moving on to the semi-final round of the global competition.

B.A.S.I.C. BALSA walked away from the state competition as the Senior Division winner, advancing to the Technovation semi-finals. Although their journey with Technovation this season ended in the semi-finals, the team spent the summer refining their business plan and pitch to compete in the Youth Division of Minnesota Cup, the largest statewide business pitch competition in the nation. The girls submitted their application to Minnesota Cup last week and learn if they will advance to the final round on August 21st.

Now, B.A.S.I.C. BALSA is refining their technology, building category filters for optimized searches, and adding additional languages to their app. The girls plan to ultimately turn over ownership of Bridge to Rochester’s Diversity Council for long term maintenance and support.

Overall, the girls of B.A.S.I.C. BALSA said they enjoyed the Technovation experience and plan to continue with the program throughout their middle and high school careers. In addition to learning coding, the competition also taught them teamwork, business development, and other valuable skill sets.

Plus, they just had a good time.

“[Technovation] is really fun and [other girls] should do it because it can be a really good learning experience. If you never ever thought of doing it and you try, maybe you’ll really like it and you can go into the field of coding someday,” said Klote.

Teams from Rochester and southeast Minnesota have historically performed well in the Technovation Challenge. Three years ago, a team of seventh graders from Kasson-Mantorville Middle School were one of four teams that qualified to compete in the Technovation finals in San Francisco. Last year, Rochester high school team SKeMAs finished as runners up in the global semi-final round for their app to minimize distracted driving.

New Childcare Facility Opens in Rochester

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A new Rochester childcare facility has officially opened its doors. Eureka Kids- located on 9th Street NW- hosted its grand opening on July 24th, officially beginning childcare operations on July 30th.

This 7,600 square foot new build facility is owned by Mayo Clinic husband and wife IT specialists Hema Sai Kishore and Mangesh Mane.

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Eureka Kids provides childcare and educational services to children aged six weeks to five-years-old. The center is heavily focused on early education, utilizing a STEM based approach- called S.M.A.R.T.E.R.- that encourages independent learning and creative thinking skills.

Eureka Kids can facilitate care and education for one hundred children. The center houses classrooms, a commercial kitchen, an outdoor play area, private nursing room for mothers, and much more.

Enrollment is currently open for infants, toddlers, and preschool aged children.

Press Release: Local Businesswoman Seeks to Discover the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs

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Rochester, Minn. – Did you know Sam Walton opened Wal-Mart when he was 40 years old? Or that the inventor of the new Snow Slugger -due out this fall by Frisbee producer Wham-O- was 50 upon developing his hyped snow-slinging toy? What Rochester resident Renee Berg learned from them was that it’s never to late to start a business, and so at age 44 she started hers: Tomorrow’s Bosses, which connects aspiring, self-starters ages 9-18 with established entrepreneurs for coaching. Think of it as Entrepreneur 101 for youth.

Tomorrow’s Bosses was test run last summer by a handful of Rochester kids. The take-homes?

Henry, age 14: “Thank you for showing me the process of running and maintaining a successful business. I’m sure it will help me out in the future.”

Olivia, age 13, “I learned if you want to start your own company you should find something you love and make a business.”

Or take Derrick Chapman, the local restaurant owner who toured Olivia through his Twisted Barrel Wood Fired Pizza food truck on a blistering summer afternoon, who remarked, “Having an aspiring entrepreneur watch and ask questions gives me hope as a business owner!”

Berg founded Tomorrow’s Bosses after seeing an unfilled need in the market. She wanted to register her son for business classes, but found nothing was available for his age group. And so Tomorrow’s Bosses was born from one mom seeking to help her son with his future.

In Rochester, most kids grow up with doctor dads and engineer moms. But not everyone does. And what about those kids who want something else? What about kids who are natural-born leaders? Those who stand out from the crowd but who aren’t interested in medicine? And what of helping our community grow its economy beyond Mayo and IBM? Aren’t entrepreneurial pursuits one answer to that ongoing growth conundrum which our community faces?

Tomorrow’s Bosses launches this summer and has a one-time offer: all classes are free to those youth who qualify for scholarship. An exclusive few will be selected by Berg and a panel of entrepreneurs. All kids need do is apply, and all they need to do to qualify is exemplify the traits of an entrepreneur. 

Local Woman Honors Father's Legacy with Four Year Anniversary of Med City Foundation

Med City Foundation Founder Kristina Hesby speaking at the nonprofit's annual fundraiser.

Med City Foundation Founder Kristina Hesby speaking at the nonprofit's annual fundraiser.

“It’s very humbling as somebody who takes an idea that was written down on a scrap of paper to see it turn into something,” explained Kristina Hesby, Founder and President of Med City Foundation. “I think it is very inspiring to see because I did not do this on my own.”

Hesby believes that Med City Foundation would likely not be what it is today if she had launched the organization in any other city; the four-year- old business was made even better, she explained, because a whole community came together to make it happen.

Med City Foundation is a grassroots, one hundred percent volunteer-led nonprofit that meets the non-medical needs of lymphoma, leukemia, and myeloma patients being treated in Rochester. Hesby said in the early stages of the organization, patients would fill out an application and in turn would normally be gifted financial assistance, like a gas or grocery card. After a few years of experience, the nonprofit has learned not to ask, but to simply listen to identify the true needs of the patient.  

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“We started out every conversation not telling [patients] what we help out with but asking them what they need help with. That has really changed the type of care we have given in the last year or year and a half,” Hesby explained.

After the initial travel to Rochester, locating lodging is one major issue patients and their caregivers face.

“None of our patients can come to Rochester alone. They are all required by their physician to come with a caregiver,” said Hesby.

As part of this process, whole families could be transplanted to Rochester anywhere from two to ten weeks. Hesby’s organization can help patients understand the hospitality homes that exist in Rochester- such as the Gift of Life Transplant House and Hope Lodge- and may even provide lodging for the patient until a room opens up at these locations.

Med City Foundation really fills in the gaps when the patient is not a child, is traveling with a significant amount of family, or desires more privacy than is offered in the communal lifestyle at Rochester’s hospitality homes. The organization can help patients secure lodging elsewhere, such as in a hotel, or can even house patients and their families in Med City Foundation’s very own apartment, which they were gifted just this year.

In addition to the immediate needs of medical care and lodging, patients and their caregivers have to continue to live their lives as unhindered as possible during their stay in Rochester. To fill these gaps, Med City Foundation has taken on a bit of a community navigator role, helping families connect to the local school and library system if they are visiting with children, linking caregivers up with places they can continue to work from, and helping families just understand what they can do with their time when not consumed by medical appointments.

None of the assistance provided by Med City Foundation is based on financial need; Hesby aims to grow the nonprofit to the point where they never have to turn anyone away.

In a sense, Med City Foundation is the realization of a lifelong commitment by Hesby. A Registered Nurse by training, she began fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society at age eighteen. When she started Med City Foundation, she had no prior experience running a business or a nonprofit.

“I literally googled ‘opening a nonprofit’ when we were coming up with the idea. It has been just asking a lot of questions, learning from other people, looking for best practice, and just kind of trying to absorb myself in as much of it as I can,” Hesby explained.

Hesby’s father, Dr. Ralph Wright-Peterson, inspired her to create something like Med City Foundation and keep the funds she raised local.

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A pillar in the community, Dr. Wright-Peterson served as Principal at John Marshall High School and helped to start Mayo High School as the Rochester community grew. He continually looked for ways to be involved with and to improve the community, leading him to host foreign exchange students in his home, be heavily involved in his family’s church, and serve as one of the first members on the Community Food Response Board.

Dr. Wright-Peterson’s death in 1995 after an eight-month battle with leukemia prompted Hesby’s lifelong fundraising efforts for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in his memory. When she first started to raise money in her father’s name, Hesby was deeply impacted by the both the amount of money she raised locally and the number of Rochester residents who attended her fundraisers and shared stories of their own battles with blood cancer.

Hesby and her father, Dr. Wright-Peterson, in 1994.

Hesby and her father, Dr. Wright-Peterson, in 1994.

“That’s when I really felt like, for the work that Dad had done in the community and the love he had for it, we should really keep it local,” she explained.

Hesby’s goal for this year is sustainability for Med City Foundation, including the establishment of meaningful partnerships that will help to nonprofit continue to exist.

“We are not going to be here in ten years just by doing our own thing. I am really hoping to make relationships, and have conversations, and figure out how we can best serve these patients and this community moving forward,” Hesby explained.

Finding balance in her own life, which Hesby admits she struggles with the most, is one key piece to help her meet this goal.

“Number one, I’m very transparent with anybody and everybody I’m talking to,” she explained.

Because Med City Foundation is made up solely of volunteers, Hesby is honest with patients about the turnaround time they should expect to receive assistance from the nonprofit. Personally, Hesby says she takes advantage of every spare moment she’s given to hop onto her computer or phone to maximize her efficiency.

For those interested in helping Med City Foundation by volunteering or any businesses looking to partner with the nonprofit, please contact the organization at info@medcityfoundation.org.

Strong Women Creating Value, Part Four: Sherry Sonnenberg

This week we wrap up our Strong Women Creating Value series, where we highlight four women in the community who are making waves and creating things of real value in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota. 

This week, we're focused on local entrepreneur Sherry Sonnenberg.

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Who are you?

My name is Sherry Sonnenberg. I am a mother, an entrepreneur, a business owner, a personal trainer, a business partner, an author, a speaker, and a driver.

 

What value are you creating in the community? 

My success is determined by helping as many other people reach success in life personally and professionally as I can. I help business owners succeed by providing them with the software my company (Next Level Suite) developed to be able to communicate effectively with their prospects and customers via phone, email, text message, and video messages. I provide opportunities for health and wellness professionals by providing a space at a low cost for other personal trainers to train their clients without all of the overhead costs on their own. This helps to make it affordable for them to be an entrepreneur and in turn help more people in the community reach their fitness goals here in Rochester (Fitness 4 Ever) and in my second location in Fargo, ND, with upcoming locations in Grand Forks, ND and Tampa, FL. I also work directly with people as 1:1 personal training clients via online personal training. I am an independent associate for IDLife, where I help people determine what supplements and vitamins will help them function at their highest capacity. As I build a team of other health/wellness professionals with IDLife, we will help people lose weight and function at 100% on a daily basis anywhere in the country. 

You will find me driving for Lyft on the weekends while my kids are with their dad. I do this as a way to meet more people and get some really great stories! It allows me to not only make but save money versus going out myself and spending it. I want to provide the best possible life for my children and that means saving for their future and mine, so I can work hard now and play hard when I can retire by the time I am 50. The more people I can help now in my different adventures, the more likely this goal will be able to be achieved.

In my free time, I like to read and write. I co-authored a book called LUCK- Where Preparation Meets Opportunity in 2016. I am currently working on writing books on multi-cultural families and co-parenting. Although the father of my children and I have been separated for two years, we have nailed down the co-parenting like rock stars. We 100% always focus on what is in the best interest of our kids. For example, we just took a trip together to Disney World and Universal Studios to surprise our twin daughters for their 9th birthday.

What are your responsibilities in your day to day job?

My main responsibility from day to day is to ensure that each of my businesses is operating at the highest level. That all of my customers are happy and taken care of is the utmost important thing that I address each and every day, not just Monday through Friday.

 

What does it mean to you to be a woman in business?

Being a woman in business means I am showing my daughters that they can be anything they want to be with a little determination, hard work, and dedication. I was raised to work hard on the farm where nothing was taken for granted. I want to teach my daughters that anything of value is earned, not given to you, and you can achieve anything you set your mind to.

Being a woman in business means giving my 100% in everything that I do in every aspect of my life. It means being able to support my dad in North Dakota by physically being with him for five to fourteen days every month for the first seven months after my mom passed away while still being able maintain and grow my businesses from a distance.

 

What ask do you have for women in the SE Minnesota business and entrepreneurial community?

I ask that you believe in yourself. You are 100% possible of achieving 100% of your dreams and goals 100% of the time. Be the example of a powerful independent woman for those young girls and boys who are watching you. I ask that you build other women and men up instead of knocking them down. Support local business as much as possible and see the good/positive in every aspect of your life. When you practice gratitude in your own life, you view everything and everyone in a different light.

 

What challenges do you think that women face in today’s society?

With social media and filters on all of our pictures, the perfect image that society holds for a woman is unrealistic. I think that so much pressure is put on the youth today because of additional challenges that come from social media and how quickly rumors and falsities can be spread. It is easy for a person to sit behind their computer and knock another person down with their hateful words. Being on the receiving end of this hate can be detrimental to a young person. We need to teach our daughters and sons to build others up, to not let other's hate affect us, and to stand up for what they believe in.

Strong Women Creating Value, Part Three: Neela Mollgaard

As part of Women's History Month, we are highlighting four women in the community who are making waves and creating things of real value. Check back in next week as we share the final part of this series and amplify the stories of some real female innovators who are making significant impact in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota. 

This week, we're focused on local entrepreneur Neela Mollgaard.

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Who are you? 

I’m the Executive Director of Red Wing Ignite.  After Red Wing was named a partner with US Ignite in 2012, I was part of a dedicated group that created the nonprofit, which fosters innovation with students, entrepreneurs, and businesses.

Though, my most valued roles are being a mother, wife, and friend.

What value are you creating in the community? 

I am helping to create a foundation for success for students, entrepreneurs, and businesses as we build a culture of innovation and strive to stay competitive in this global economy.

This is done in three ways: 

-       Providing learning opportunities inside and outside the classroom to prepare students for the workforce of tomorrow. 

-       By connecting entrepreneurs with mentors, investors, customers, and technical advisors to help bring ideas to reality.

-       Supporting businesses by convening talent, technology, and resources such as a maker space and co-working space. 

 

What are your responsibilities in your day to day job?

I guess you can say I am a matchmaker of sorts;  I bring together entrepreneurs, business, and schools with needed resources, expertise, and talent in an effort to advance their goals.    

 

What does it mean to you to be a woman in business? 

To be honest, I don’t think about it.  I just see the work that needs to be done and do it.

 

What ask do you have for women in the SE Minnesota business and entrepreneurial community?

My ask would be that we all work collaboratively across city limits and organizational boundaries to place businesses' and entrepreneurs' needs first.

The African Proverb, says it best: “ If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together.”

 

What challenges do you think that women face in today’s society?

The entrepreneurial ecosystem is predominately male-driven but, I am encouraged to see more women entrepreneurs, investors, and female students involved in STEM career paths.